KoA Hits:267520 2006.10.24 13:35
[Statement] Stop KorUS FTA Right Now!

The 4th round of talks on Korea-US FTA is being held from 23th to 27th October, in Jeju Island in South Korea. Just as we had warned, the FTA talks are being driven to an uneven negotiation behind doors, ignoring peoples' concerns and resistance. Clearly, the FTA is pushed not by peoples' will but by some officials in Rho administration, strongly supporting neoliberal "open-door" policies.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry in Korea accepted beef imports from the US, even though it knows that beef imported from the US is not free from the mad-cow disease. In terms of trade in goods, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade ordered on 18th April that the number of items to be excluded from offer and request list should be minimized, in order to "keep the momentum of KorUS FTA negotiation alive". It has also been exposed that the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy does not have any official documents regarding the KorUS FTA during July and December last year, showing its lack of preparation. As time goes by, it is getting clearer that the KorUS FTA was being hastily pushed without any preparation. However, the Korean government is still refusing to disclose the negotiation process and is mobilizing tremendous amount of money to propagate about the KorUS FTA and to disguise the truth.

In the meantime, the KorUS FTA talks, which started at an uneven playing ground, are getting even more out of balance.

According to a newspaper report, the US side categorized tariff-elimination of auto-related items into five steps: 'immediate/3-years/5-years/10-years/others' to force open the Korean automobile market, while showing little intention to open up their textile sector. Moreover, the US makes it clear that it doesn't have any intention to make any concessions issues that are in dispute. Therefore, we can only doubt whether the government can get any meaningful concessions in areas that are under dispute such as agriculture, textile, Gaesung Complex, pharmaceuticals pricing system and Intellectual Property Rights(IPR), as it had promised as "balanced benefits" for both Korea and US. The Korean government implied that it would open the agricultural market to the US, gave up issues regarding Gaesung Complex and resumed US beef imports. All this proves that the peoples' concerns that the FTA would be a catastrophe to Korean society rings true.

We specifically note the following points in this point in time, just before the 4th round of talks.

Firstly, we note a stronger push to enforce the KorUS FTA, under the logic that the Korea-US alliance should be intensified in face of North Korea's nuclear test. The KorUS FTA could devastate all Korean peoples' lives. Therefore, it should not be allowed that the FTA be pushed with political intentions. This merely proves once again that the FTA is being negotiated in the interests of the people but under political intentions of intensifying the Korea-US military alliance.

Secondly, the talks on Jeju Island are being held under the protection of a quasi-martial law. The government refuses to allow rallies and demonstrations saying that they are illegal. The government had promised that it would listen to peoples' opinion and guarantee the right to have rallies and demonstrations. It also promised to disclose the negotiation process as much as it could. But the situation in Jeju shows that the government's promises were merely aimed at manipulating public opinion. Abusing state force with hedgehog, container boxes, and bulwark cement blocks threatens and oppresses the peoples' right to have rallies and demonstrations.

We will make our voices against KorUS FTA heard, peacefully but loudly in resistance to government's oppression. We will meet the masses and let people know the problems and devastating results of the FTA. We also deliver our deep concern to people all over the world. If the government continues to push the negotiation process using police forces, continues to use quasi-martial law in spite of all our efforts and warnings against the FTA, we make it clear that the government shall bear full responsibilities for any problems caused by police violence and brutality.

The KorUS FTA negotiations have entered into a critical point. Pushing the KorUS FTA is the road to collapse of peoples' lives. KorUS FTA is not the road to a bright future but a negotiation that will lead to death. We strongly demand that the government stop the KorUS FTA right now.

2006. 10. 22
Korean Alliance against KorUS FTA(KoA)

Negotiators face tight deadline as FTA talks open in Jeju FTA
[Korea Herald 2006-10-24 10:02]

SEOGWIPO, Jeju - Korea and the United States began their fourth round of free trade negotiations yesterday, aiming to advance the talks in the face of a tight deadline and protests from Korean farmers and other opponents.
"During this round of talks, both sides will aim to establish a framework for tariff offers, particularly in the area of goods, and seek to lay the foundations to progress the talks in general," Seoul`s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said in a statement.

Seoul`s chief negotiator Kim Jong-hoon is leading a 251-member delegation, while Wendy Cutler, U.S. assistant trade representative, is leading a 104-member delegation for the five-day meeting. Experts predict this round of talks will be difficult and focused on details.

Pressure has stepped up on Seoul and Washington to set a basic frame of agreement by the fifth round, which is scheduled for December. This would help to ensure they conclude the FTA talks by March 2007 at the latest to meet the July 2007 expiration of the Bush administration`s fast-track trade negotiating authority.

"The two countries will aim to handle a wide range of areas thoroughly by focusing more on the details to narrow differences," Lee Hang-koo, a trade specialist with the Korea Institute for Industrial Economics and Trade, told The Korea Herald last week. "They don`t have much time." Lee noted that the two governments plan to have two working-level meetings before the official talks in December.

He predicted that agriculture, steel, textiles and automobiles would be the most challenging areas in the upcoming talks, with agriculture expected to be extremely sensitive and difficult. Rice, one of the stickiest issues for Seoul, will be discussed for the first time in this round.

"The United States is now more interested in themselves as an `agriculture nation` as opposed to an `industrial nation,` so they are actively pushing for wider market opening," said Lee. "And this of course includes liberalization of Korea`s most sensitive products." The Trade Ministry said both parties will first aim to work out tariff rates in the easiest, or nonsensitive areas, before moving onto weightier matters. Negotiators will also attempt to agree which areas deserve to be withheld from or given special treatment in the FTA.

"We will aim to draw up a `viable` agreement for both sides with regard to the tariff offers and the time frame for the points at issue," the Trade Ministry said.

Yesterday, the two sides held discussions on 12 areas, which included agriculture, textiles, services, automobiles, and pharmaceutical and medical devices.

During the third round of talks from Sept. 6-9 in Seattle, the United States modified its initial tariff offer for goods and textiles at the "strong request" of Korea. But the modified offer fell short of the Korean negotiators` expectations, the Trade Ministry said. The two parties therefore agreed to improve their offers through continuous discussions during the weeks before the fourth round of negotiations. Washington had also requested that Seoul improve its tariff offer for agricultural products.

Security is tight in Korea`s resort island of Jeju. About 300 protestors gathered in the streets shouting "No to FTA" and "Down with FTA." Farmers and opponents of the FTA here fear that opening the market to the United States, the world`s largest economy, will destroy local industries and wipe out livelihoods.

Riot police have been dispatched in major areas to prevent accidents and quell riots. About 60 protesters attempted to bypass police barricades and enter the grounds of the Shilla Hotel, where the first meetings took place.

Korea Requests FTA Safeguard for Agriculture
[Maeil Business Newspaper 2006-10-23 19:56]

During the fourth round of KORUS FTA negotiations, Korea requested the adoption of a special safeguard as a condition for expanding the opening of the domestic agricultural market, according to a report on Monday.
On the first day of the fourth KORUS FTA negotiations in the Jeju Shilla Hotel, Korea's negotiating team disagreed with the U.S. team regarding the means of introducing a special agricultural safeguard.

The meeting progressed with assailed questions from the U.S. and responses from Korea.

The South Korean negotiation team repeatedly emphasized the need of a special safeguard, arguing that not only is such similar clause included in FTAs which the United States had already concluded with other nations, such as Australia, but also that alowered tariff will cause a rapid increase of American agricultural imports, greatly harming domestic farmers.

An official from the agricultural negotiating group exclaimed, "A method where a safeguard is automatically activated if the import amount or quantity surpasses a certain condition was proposed. However, the U.S. declined to accept such an offer and it is difficult for Korea to further recede in the range of agricultural market opening."

The domestic negotiating team plans to continue the negotiation with the prewritten modified agricultural proposal after raising the idea of a safeguard between the two nations.

Meanwhile, discussions on the primary, concerned goods trade, including, industrial goods, textiles, automobiles and medical supplies, progressed in an atmosphere of tension.

The discussion outline focused on what level of the proposals would be accepted.

An official from the goods negotiating group asserted, "Discussions on the 'Request List' which was exchanged before the negotiations started didn't take place on the first day."
Total 19
No. Subject Name Regdate Hits
19 [KoPA] WTO Strategy Paper from Korean Movements [12] KCTU 2003.08.14 282167
18 Down with the US-South Korea FTA and neoliberal globalization! [5] KCTU 2006.07.13 259611
17 FKTU paper on the KORUS FTA [7] KCTU 2006.08.02 258997
16 [Report of Minbyun] Situation of Civil and Political Rights in Republic of Korea update [5] KCTU 2006.10.23 264780
» [Statement] Stop KORUS FTA Right Now! [5] KoA 2006.10.24 267520
14 The Real Understanding of the KORUS FTA [66] KoA 2006.10.25 257642
13 PSSP Statement on North Korea's Nuclear Test [5] PSSP 2006.11.10 256226
12 Joint Statement on Shwe Gas Development Project in Burma [7] KCTU 2006.11.18 263649
11 [Reuters] South Korea braces for major strike on Wednesday [6] KCTU 2006.11.22 266717
10 (AFP) South Korean protesters plan day of strikes, street rallies [6] KCTU 2006.11.22 252549
9 KCPT Statement On the Erection of Barbed Wire from November 9, 2006 [7] KCPT 2006.11.27 264102
8 No to UN Security Council Sanctions against North Korea [6] KCTU 2006.11.27 258678
7 The Road to an Undesirable Deal - Understanding the Kor-US FTA [8] KCTU 2007.02.22 271161
5 ITUC Press : ITUC and TUAC express opposition to current Korea-United States free trade agreement [5] KCTU 2008.08.02 254725
4 ITUC Online : Korea : Anti-union repression continue [7] KCTU 2008.08.02 268604
3 AFL-CIO letter on KGEU [9] KCTU 2008.08.02 263624
2 NGO Statement on the case of Hanjin Heavy Industries & Construction in Philippines [7] KCTU 2009.03.05 266752
1 Report for the WTO General Council review of the Trade policies of Republic of Korea (Geneva, 19 and 21 September, 2012) [92] KCTU 2013.02.15 281487
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