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S. Korea Denies Possibility of FTA Renegotiation with U.S.
    2008-11-10 10:18:54     Xinhua

South Korean government Monday ruled out the possibility of the renegotiation of the free trade agreement (FTA) with the U.S., although the new Obama Administration is widely expected to adopt protectionist trade policies.

"If the U.S. calls for renegotiations it would run counter to international practices and undermine its credibility," said Lee Hye-min, the deputy minister for FTA.

There have been growing speculations that the Obama administration will likely request overall revisions to the FTA, especially with regard to the automobile sector.

During the presidential campaign Obama stated the free trade deal between the two nations is "badly flawed" in terms of fairness, citing that bilateral auto trade strongly favors South Korea.

Under the free trade deal, the two sides agreed to slash and phase out tariffs on autos, which could boost greater exports South Korean vehicles to the U.S. market.

Last year, South Korea shipped about 700,000 automobiles to the U.S. while importing only 5,000 from the U.S.

However, responding to the unfairness of the automobile sector agreement, South Korean government said the difficulties in the U. S. auto industry are of its own making and the U.S. automakers should strengthen their own competitiveness.

South Korea and the U.S. reached a Free Trade Agreement in April 2007 after a year of negotiations.

The pact is now subject to approval by the legislatures of both countries, but ratification has been delayed by political debates on both sides.

During an April 19 summit, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and U.S. President George W. Bush agreed to make joint efforts to gain approval of the FTA by their respective legislatures by the end of this year.

 
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