이명박 대통령이 오바마 대통령에게 한미자유무역협정[FTA]체결과 관련, 더 많은 양보를 하겠다는 약속[보증]을 받았다고
워싱턴포스트가 오늘 보도했습니다 ［맨아래 기사원문 참조］
워싱턴포스트는 오늘자 1면기사를 통해 '한국이 FTA에서 미국의 의제를 지지한다'는 제목의 기사를 통해 한덕수 주미대사가
한 지방의 상공회의소 연설에서 '한미 FTA가 미국납세자들의 별도 부담없이 미국의 경제를 진작시키는 계기가 될 것'이라고
말했다는 내용과 함께 이명박대통령이 오바마대통령에게 이미 양보 약속을 받아냈다고 전했습니다
신문에 따르면 한대사는 한미 FTA에 대한 미국인들의 지지를 얻기 위해 알라바마주의 몽고메리, 일리노이주의 피오리아와 디트로이트등을 순회하고 있으며 이 과정에서 이같은 연설을 했다고 보도했습니다
특히 신문은 '오바마대통령이 대통령후보시절에는 FTA를 비판했지만 이명박 대통령으로 부터 보다 많은 양보를 하겠다는
약속[보증]을 받았다'고 설명했습니다
또 오바마대통령은 중간선거가 끝난뒤 11월 한국지도자를 만나 FTA원안의 개정이나 수정을 원한다고 덧붙였습니다
신문은 한미FTA가 체결되면 미국의 한국수출액이 연간 백억달러이상 늘어나고 수만개의 일자리가 창출될 것으로 예상되지만
자동차와 쇠고기 수입등을 둘러싸고 반대목소리가 높았다고 소개했습니다
신문은 한국이 세계의 경제발전소로 G20 회원국이며 삼성 현대등 세계적인 브랜드를 가진 나라지만 일부 품목에 대한 높은
관세가 미국업체들에게 장벽이 되고 있다고 전했으며 구체적으로 캐터필러사등의 사례를 들었습니다
한덕수 대사는 우리에게도 잘 알려진 중장비업체인 캐터필러 본사를 방문, 고위 임원들을 만나 한미 FTA의 장점등을 설명했다고 합니다
워싱턴포스트가 한국이 미국입장을 지지한다는 제목아래 특히 이명박 대통령이 오바마에게 양보를 약속했다는 장문의 기사를 보도함에 따라 국내에서 적지 않은 파문이 일 것으로 보입니다
특히 이 기사는 한미 FTA특집이라는 말이 어울릴 정도로 FTA의 모든 것을 종합적으로 다룬 기사여서 이명박대통령의 약속을 얻어냈다는 내용이 터무니없는 내용이라기 보다는 상당한 근거를 가진 보도로 풀이됩니다
South Korea free trade pact back on U.S. agenda
By Howard Schneider
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, August 23, 2010; A01
NAPERVILLE, ILL. -- The message may have been familiar recently when the local Chamber of Commerce took up a proposed free-trade agreement between South Korea and the United States.
"Wave the flag," the speaker exhorted the audience. "This is an opportunity to stimulate the U.S. economy at no cost to U.S. taxpayers."
But the man on the podium wasn't the typical business booster. He was South Korean Ambassador Han Duk-soo, who has assumed the unusual role of a foreign official promoting U.S. jobs. With the Obama administration pledging a major new push to ratify the agreement, Han has gone on the stump in cities such as Montgomery, Ala., Peoria, Ill., and Detroit to build American support for free trade and allay concerns that his country is trying to snatch U.S. manufacturing jobs.
"I'd like to see more Ford and General Motors cars in Seoul," said Han, a Harvard-educated economist and veteran Korean minister who can mix quips about the Cubs and White Sox with the arcana of tariff schedules.
For three years, since it was negotiated by the Bush administration, the free-trade agreement has languished in Congress. Now trade officials from both countries are trying to resolve the problems that have kept it bottled up, including a dispute over U.S. access to the South Korean auto market and restrictions on U.S. beef imposed after the mad cow scare several years ago.
The agreement would eventually eliminate tariffs between the two countries. Because those levies are typically higher on the South Korean side, administration officials estimate the deal could mean more than $10 billion annually in increased U.S. exports to Seoul and tens of thousands of new U.S. jobs. South Koreans say they would benefit from lower prices -- some tariffs on food imports from the U.S. are as high as 40 percent -- and a more efficient flow of investment in and out of their country.
U.S. opponents of the agreement argue it doesn't do enough to benefit American industry, even as it gives South Korean businesses greater rights in the United States.
But the more fundamental dispute is over free trade itself. Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush had aggressively promoted it. Yet the appeal of free trade has waned amid large U.S. trade deficits and concerns that more American manufacturing jobs will disappear overseas at a time when unemployment remains stuck near 10 percent.
President Obama has placed a priority on export promotion, calling it a key to job growth, and embraced the agreement with South Korea as a opportunity to weigh in on the broader debate over trade policy and advance U.S. interests.
South Korea is an economic powerhouse, a member of the Group of 20 and home to major international brands such as Samsung, LG and Hyundai. Yet it remains in some ways a closed shop with extensive tariffs, a paltry share of its large auto market devoted to imports, and a notorious set of non-tariff barriers that has prompted companies such as Peoria-based Caterpillar to complain that their products are routinely excluded for minor regulatory problems.
Obama criticized the trade agreement as a presidential candidate but has won a commitment from South Korean President Lee Myung-bak for more concessions. Obama wants to have revisions or amendments to discuss with the Korean leader when they meet in November -- after the midterm congressional elections.
U.S. Trade Representative Ronald Kirk, whose job more typically involves overseas negotiations, has mounted a domestic lobbying effort, visiting cities and districts hit hard by the recession to argue that "when you do trade right, America can win."
"In some cases they think I am a three-headed monster" for raising an issue some feel has undercut the U.S. middle class, Kirk said at a recent briefing.
The South Korea agreement would be the most significant free-trade pact signed by the United States since the North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada in the mid-1990s. And with the dispute over the South Korea agreement serving as a proxy for the larger trade debate in the United States, both advocates and opponents have mobilized.
The pact is "the acid test" for whether a larger trade agenda can be rejuvenated, said William C. Lane, a lobbyist for Caterpillar. Company executives project Caterpillar would significantly benefit from the agreement -- the firm has less than 5 percent of South Korea's heavy-equipment market -- and hosted Han on a recent tour of its Peoria headquarters, where he met privately with top executives, visited a manufacturing facility and tried his hand driving one of Caterpillar's massive D11T "earthmovers.''
Skeptics of the proposed agreement include some major corporate interests such as Ford Motor Co., which argues that the pact isn't aggressive enough in trying to open the South Korean market. Ford officials, for instance, noted that imports now represent less than 5 percent of South Korea's auto market.
Unions, environmental advocacy groups and other organizations, meanwhile, are urging Obama to keep his campaign promises and stiffen the terms for South Korean access to the U.S. market.
Last month, more than 100 Democratic members of Congress signed a letter asking to meet Obama and discuss the agreement. They characterized it as "job killing" and "another NAFTA-style FTA that we simply cannot support in its current form."
"There are two ways to go, and they have to decide," said Lori Wallach, executive director of the global trade division at Public Citizen, which is critical of several aspects of the Korea agreement. "Push forward Bush's text with minimal fixes -- that would have enormous policy and political fallout -- or they start to translate that old policy into the new model promised in the campaign."
There is more at stake than jobs and money. Asian nations outside China, particularly democracies such as Taiwan and South Korea, have been pressing for a more energetic U.S. presence in the region, worried they need a counterweight to their large and increasingly influential neighbor. Heightened U.S. trade with Asia would be part of that.
But Seoul is just waiting for the United States. South Korea is negotiating trade pacts with the European Union and others. U.S. business officials worry American companies could be left behind.
"Asia is booming. Regional trade is liberalizing," said U.S. Chamber of Commerce Asia vice president Tami Overby, a longtime U.S. business activist in South Korea who helped coordinate the South Korean ambassador's tour.
Trade agreements "are flying fast and furious in Asia," she said. "These things are happening, and [the U.S.] is on the outside."