Monday, July 09, 2007

FTA re-signed

The Korea US FTA was re-signed (not, unfortunately, resigned, however) on June 30th. It still needs to be ratified, however, and the campaign against that has heated up even more lately with some high profile opposition to the deal coming from many in the former reform camp.

Lee Jeong Woo, former Chairman of the President's Policy Planning Commission from 2002-2005, in a recent editorial harshly criticized the Roh administration for moving right ward, when it should, he argues, be moving more towards a social welfare state.

The ‘‘Participatory Government’’ of Roh Moo-hyun has, over the last four years, worked in its own way to overcome a culture where ‘‘growth is everything’’ and ‘‘the market rules above all,’’ and I praise it for its efforts. The results have been a greater emphasis on harmony between growth, the re-distribution of wealth and the role of the public sector. Now, however, it is saying that it is suddenly going to trash that philosophy and go back to the familiar priorities of growth and the market. Put simply, it has turned to the right, and there ahead lies the cliff. Right now what is right for Korea is a greater turn towards the left. It is the Scandinavian social democratic model that has been judged the best of all the market economy experiments the human race has experienced so far. In public opinion surveys as well, it is the Scandinavian model that Koreans say they like the most. Though of course it would be difficult to move to that model right away, we should be gazing toward Scandinavia to get there. A free trade agreement with the U.S. means we are going to go in the wrong direction.
Elsewhere it has been revealed that most of the poisonous parts of the deal (the sections on investor-state disputes for example) have remained intact.

Meanwhile the government has continued cracking down on the opposition to the FTA with more and more arrests.

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