TWN Info Service on Free
04 September 2008
Prospect of Malaysia-US FTA Seen Unlikely by November
Korea which has finalized an FTA with the US
is not hopeful that the agreement will receive ratification in either
of the two countries before the US
presidential elections in November.
``It is certain that the
U.S. will not be
able to ratify the agreement until the presidential election,” Lee Hye-min,
deputy minister for trade and chief FTA negotiator, was reported to
Given that Malaysia’s
free trade talks with the US
has yet to be finalized, it would seem that it is even less likely that
get its free trade agreement passed by Congress before the presidential
election. Furthermore, the US Trade Representative has no fast track
negotiating authority, and even if an agreement is reached, it would
be subjected to modifications by the new administration. As such, it
would seem pointless for Malaysia
to further pursue its negotiations with the US.
is currently the only country which is still negotiating a FTA with
the US and the next
round of talks is scheduled to take place in November.
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Shelves KORUS FTA
By Oh Young-jin, Staff Reporter
has given up hope of having its free trade agreement (FTA) with the
United States ratified
before the Nov. 4 U.S. presidential
election, a senior trade official said Monday.
During an interview with
The Korea Times, Lee Hye-min, Korea's deputy minister for trade and
chief FTA negotiator, said, ``It is certain that the U.S. will not be
able to ratify the agreement until the presidential election.
``That contingency is also
being considered,'' said Lee, who was a key member of the Korean negotiating
team in the lead-up to the settlement of the so-called KORUS FTA last
year, confirming the difficulty Korea could face in getting the FTA
ratified by the parliaments of the two countries, in the event that
Barack Obama, the U.S. democratic presidential candidate, wins the November
Arguably, it was the first
time that a senior Seoul government official
has definitely expressed Seoul's position that it has forsaken its hope
for FTA ratification.
In a separate interview with
a domestic radio station, Lee said that, if Obama calls for a revision
in the current agreement, it would create an imbalance, without specifying
what he meant. Obama, who is running neck and neck in opinion polls
with the presumptive Republican candidate John McCain, together with
the Democrats, are opposing bilateral trade pacts with Korea and other
countries, bowing to the pressures by, among others, the struggling
President Bush repeatedly
asked the Democrats-controlled U.S. Congress to ratify the KORUS FTA
but without success.
The Lee Myung-bak government
in Seoul also has pushed the National
Assembly to give prompt approval so as to put pressure on Washington
to follow suit. However, the National Assembly seems to be taking it
as an issue of lesser concerns because of the opposition by progressive
segments in Korean society that flexed their muscles during candlelit
vigils against the government's decision to resume U.S.
However, Lee noted that there
are strong voices not only in the Republican Party but also among Democrats
for the early FTA ratification, saying ``It is a matter of when (the
FTA with U.S.
is ratified), not whether.''
Referring to the ongoing
trade talks with the European Union (EU) during the radio program appearance,
Lee said that a settlement is possible before the end of this year,
explaining the outcome of the talks between chief negotiators.
He cited automobiles, finance
and legal services as primary areas of discussions that have yet to
``We stressed the importance
of products from the Gaeseong Industrial Complex (the industrial park
that is located in the North Korean city of the same name as flagship
of the two Koreas' industrial cooperation),''
he said. ``The EU reserved not to reveal its stance.''
and U.S. left this
issue a moot point because of the different sensitivities at the two
countries over it.
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