The leader of South Korea's main opposition party, which polls say is headed for a big victory in an April election, said on Wednesday it would repeal a free trade deal with the United States if it wins control of parliament, unless the pact is renegotiated.Good luck with that renegotiation stuff, now that it has been signed into law. The best you can hope for is individual renegotiation of individual clauses, but even that seems unlikely, and backing out now will be a huge blow to South Korea's credibility when it comes to future trade and economic issues.
Parliament, currently controlled by the ruling conservatives, approved the deal amid rowdy scenes of opposition lawmakers protesting in November, after it was signed in 2007 by the then-government of left-leaning President Roh Moo-hyun. It is scheduled to go into effect in coming weeks.
The deal, which economists say could boost the $67 billion in annual trade between the two countries by as much as a quarter, was a highly emotive legislative issue that left the two sides in deep division, paralyzing parliament.
"The FTA pursued by the (President Lee Myung-bak) government has no regards for our national interest and it is our position that it cannot be left to go into effect," opposition Democratic United Party leader Han Myeong-sook told a party meeting.
"It must be renegotiated before it takes effect to fix the poisonous clauses. Otherwise, we will repeal it in the new parliament session," she said.
Bad, bad move.