KITA stresses unity over Korea-US FTA
Han Duck-soo, chief of the Korea International Trade Association (KITA), Tuesday stressed the global need for free trade and potential benefits to Korea from the agreements with the U.S., E.U., and others.
“It is a difficult time to take the lead in trade when both the U.S. and China have extensively slowed in growth, but I’m positive that it will pass,” said Han, during his first public press meeting since he took charge of the trade group about three weeks ago.
Han vowed to make the nation better informed about FTA benefits as Korean people, whether businessmen or ordinary citizens, still worry about possible losses from the agreement as the policies get implemented.
Serving as prime minister under the previous Roh Moo-hyun administration, Han played a key role in the Korea-U.S. FTA signed in 2007. Before coming to KITA, he also served as ambassador for the past three years.
Han harked back to the Korea’s economic achievement in the 1960’s when Korea started its open market policies and the limited government intervention.
He emphasized the so-called, “third way,” a mix economy of open markets and state regulation.
“If our economic policies don’t gain credibility from the international communities, then we would get pressured from the market for a better discipline, as Greece, Spain, and partly other European countries are going through now,” Han said.
From his recent trip to textile factories, Han said he noticed a “mismatch” in labor force, in which employers are short of the employees with right skills. Korean companies, especially medium- and small businesses should hire qualified workers in order to improve their competitiveness, he said.
In response to a criticism of KORUS FTA compared with the North American free trade agreement (NAFTA), Han claimed that Mexico has benefitted from the NAFTA in terms of job creation and economic growth. The financial crisis the country faced after the pact is a separate issue which involved its currency policies, he added.