Monday, August 21, 2006

US ROK FTA - US Side all but given up?

I am waiting to see the video on the C-SPAN site, but Susan Schwab, head USTR, must have gave what ammounts to an interesting interview on the station recently. One may conclude from her rather gloomy language that like I said, this deal is a dead as a doornail. All this talk now could be just politeness.

First consider her strong words (quoted by Hani/Yonhap) on the idea of Kaesong being included in the deal:

"It won't happen. It can't happen," Susan Schwab, the U.S. Trade Representative, said about accepting imports from the Kaesong industrial complex in an interview with C-SPAN aired Sunday.

 Asked whether the U.S. stance has changed on the issue, she said, "No, that won't change."...

"Obviously, we have rather significant differences of opinions with Koreans over the issue of Kaesong," Schwab said, adding later, "It's not part of the trade agreement."

Why not just say "Over my cold dead body." Susan? Kudos to you for the stand on the issue though, not one mealy word in there.

What makes me think even the USTR has given up is this line (from the Joongang):

Rice tariffs and imports from an industrial complex in North Korea are some of the toughest issues in negotiating the free trade agreement with South Korea, she said..."It's possible to get them all done by the end of the year," Ms. Schwab was quoted as saying, but she added, "It's also possible you won't reach agreement with some of these countries. It wouldn't be the first time." 

Free trade accords are hard to negotiate because the U.S. insists on commercially meaningful deals, she said...

She said she is optimistic about the prospects for South Korea and Malaysia but repeatedly mentioned these were difficult negotiations.

Translation, either stop dicking around Seoul or we will go elsewhere where we can make a meaningful deal.


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