April 22, 2009

Free trade deal passes hurdle in Seoul

A South Korean parliamentary committee approved a free trade agreement with the United States, sending the deal to a plenary session for ratification.

The free trade agreement, signed in June 2007, has found opposition in both countries, Yonhap news reported Wednesday.

Before the vote in Seoul, opposition lawmakers held a press conference asking representatives to postpone the vote until lawmakers in Washington appeared more likely to endorse it. They also reviewed concerns over a lack of safeguards for South Korean farmers.

After the vote, Grand National Party officials said the plenary session would be scheduled after a meeting between Presidents Lee Myung-bak and Barack Obama that is scheduled for June.

We plan to proceed with the bill only at the committee level during parliament's April session, GNP Rep. Hong Joon-pyo said.