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Finance minister urges swift approval of FTA with U.S.

South Korea’s top economic policymaker called for the swift ratification of the long-pending free trade agreement with the United States on Wednesday, saying that a further delay could eventually do more harm than good to the nation’s interests.

The trade deal, known as the KORUS FTA, was signed in 2007 and supplemented in December of last year with minor modifications that mostly dealt with the auto industry.

Recently, the U.S. Congress passed the deal and it has been awaiting approval from South Korea‘s parliament in the face of strong outcry from opposition parties that claim the latest modifications favor American interests.

“We need to ratify the free trade deal without a further delay during this parliamentary session,” Finance Minister Bahk Jae-wan told a crisis management meeting held at the Korea Federation of Small and Medium Business.

“A further delay in drawing up a conclusion could do more harm from unproductive controversy and losing of opportunities than benefits possibly coming from additional debate,” he added.

He renewed his call for the parliament to pass the free trade deal as quickly as possible, citing what he sees as the “unprecedentedly swift” move by U.S. lawmakers to approve the pact in just six days.

His remarks come as the government and the ruling party have been stepping up efforts to get the trade deal to pass through the National Assembly as early as possible in order to implement it starting next year. (Yonhap News)
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