In a recent Hog Outlook column, University of Missouri agricultural economist Ron Plain points out that despite the fact that Congress passed and President Obama signed the free trade agreement (FTA) with South Korea, it may be stalled.
“It now appears the agreement may have difficulty passing South Korea’s National Assembly. It is especially unpopular with Korean farmers who fear large increases in the importation of U.S. farm products,” Plain reports.
“South Korea’s president is working to get approval this month, but opposition groups are calling for a delay until after their April elections,” he adds.
A threat by opposition party politicians to fight physically to stop a parliamentary vote on South Korea’s free trade agreement with the United States appears to be working for the moment, according to a South Korean newspaper report.
South Korea’s National Assembly is known worldwide for occasionally breaking into fighting and minor violence when considering legislation.
On Thursday, police were dispatched to the National Assembly to keep protesters away. On Wednesday inside the National Assembly, opposition party members physically blocked discussion of the trade pact.
Opinion polls show about 58% support the FTA. But trade pacts are used to eliminate protectionist tariffs and practices that are no longer needed in South Korea, but are difficult to root out.
Presidential elections in April represent a reason to delay a decision on hot potato issues like an FTA.
And while the United States is South Korea’s main defense ally, a sizeable portion of South Korea’s population would like the country to reduce its dependence on the United States, the newspaper reported.