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Concerning KORUS FTA> Letter to Mr. Barack Obama

관리자 2011-11-04 (금) 11:03 6년전 12697  
Letter to Mr. Barack Obama, President of United State of America
October 12, 2011
 
 
The Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea (PROK) is very concerned about the Korea-United States Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA) which the South Korea’s National Assembly is in hurry to approve and ratify with the United States and recently has been approved by the US Congress.
 
The Christian gospel is against all of the things that challenge God's justice by giving privileges to one class at the disadvantage of another class. We believe that God intends to build a society in which people live in just togetherness.
 
Right now, the world is facing the severe crisis caused by neo-liberal capitalist policies which has been an unjust economic system and has been deemed to fail. The neo-liberal capitalism, strongly driven by the United States, has ensured and concentrated wealth and freedom of the rich. It excluded the poor and the common people from the benefits of such an economic system, wherein they lose their jobs and forced them to get into unstable irregular jobs. The people excluded and deprived from having regular jobs received not even half of the wage received by tenured workers while doing the same amount and extent of work. They are forced to live an insignificant life.  
 
The mortgage loan situation in the United States, brought about by the financial crisis several years ago, was caused by this unfair economic policy. Common people who bought a house through a bank loans were unable to pay back the loans. Then the banks that loaned the money for their house lost substantially and the crisis occurred consequentially. The huge crisis has affected the monopoly companies which took most of the profits by using the neo-liberal capitalist policies. By using their position of power the United States has resorted to quantitative easing and over issuing the dollar currency that has no guaranteed value.
 
Also, the United States has been manipulating the credit ratings of other countries including Europe. Keeping its currency value, but also expanding and worsening the crisis. The use of economic and political policies that give excessive advantage and opportunities to monopoly companies and the rich class has destroyed koinonia within the United States and amongst nations. "Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” (James 1:15). This biblical truth is apparent in the midst of this ongoing global economic crisis.        
 
The unjust economic order has increased protests throughout the world. The demonstration of young people on the streets of the United States is growing more intense after the protests in England that took place not long ago. Evil policies that make the common people live on the scraps of the rich threatens society and brings distrust, terrible bloodshed, violence and revenge. The core values of society such as public trust and social peace are eroded.
 
The South Korea-United States Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA) has been strongly pushed forward by the South Korean government and the United States. This situation is like buttoning up from the first button to the second. It remains an unequal agreement even after several negotiations, and its unjust provisions, albeit opposition from the grassroots will widen the economic gaps between the rich and the working classes. If the KORUS FTA is approved as it is, farmers, laborers, independent entrepreneurs and small-to-medium-size enterprises which are running the local economy will be ruined, falling into uncontrollable confusion. We seriously warn you, Mr. President and earnestly beg that you deal with this pact, the KORUS FTA, having in mind the responsibility for the future of the Korean people. We urge your special attention to the following reasons in the approval of this Free-Trade Agreement:
 
1. The ruin of the livelihood of farmers and ranchers
The Republic of Korea conceded a lot to the United States in the right to agricultural products, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, and intellectual property. If the KORUS FTA is approved as it is, the damage is estimated to be one trillion won a year by the government's calculation or two trillion six hundred billion won a year as calculated by the industrial sector. The United States estimates that total agricultural products would be reduced by 40-50% when the FTA is approved. There will be a huge damage on South Korea’s livestock industry.
    
2.  KORUS FTA, Chapter 11-Investment, Section B: Investor-State Dispute Settlement undermines South Korea’s financial policies and constitutional provisions
This chapter in the FTA presupposes that when US investors incurred losses on all forms of investment due to contravening legal principles or government policies of Korea, they can file a case in court and claim the amount of losses from the government of Korea. Under this provision constitutional and other legal principles of South Korea are undermined.
  
3. Obviously the KORUS FTA is an unequal trade pact
The KORUS FTA in the United States' version prescribes that any clause and any law application of the KORUS FTA that does not agree with the United States' legal principles and practices are invalid in any kind of situations. It is totally different from the insistence of the government of Korea that the KORUS FTA is not above the law of Korea. Accepting the unequal clause is betraying the country’s interests and a total sell-out of national sovereignty.
   
4. Linchpin and Most-Favored-Nation treatment (MFN) clauses
The linchpin clauses are poisonous because they prevent one state from taking measures to lower its level toward the other state. These kinds of linchpin clauses do not exist in any other FTA. Also, the MFN clauses so provide that even though in the future Korea gains relatively favorable result from the negotiation with other countries, the United States would not accept unfavorable treatment and would automatically insist on being an MFN. These types of clauses should be amended.
      
5. Safeguard reactivation prohibition clauses
Limiting safeguard clauses to be activated only once products are imported from the other party is rapidly increasing. This is caused by a non-tariff barrier after an opening the unhampered trade influx in the wide range of sectors of different industries. This is an ineffective safeguard clause.   
 
6. Changing the dispute resolution process
When the cases related with labor and environment is changed from the special dispute resolution process to the common dispute resolution process, they can do trade retaliation towards Korea by using the change of the process in case of disputes in the sectors of labor and environment. Also, there is no limitation of indemnity in the common dispute resolution process while there is limitation to $1,500,000 in the special dispute resolution process.
 
7. Concern about connecting trade retaliation of labor standard
Korea accepts the policy of the United States that connects labor standard and trade retaliation, as the leading country among major trade countries. By this the insistence that Korean products are produced at low cost and are sold throughout the United States is easily justified because the right of the Korean laborer does not reach the labor standards requirement of the ILO Declaration. The United States can use it to do trade retaliation legally by suing the government of South Korea.   
 
8. Agreement on the change of customs and laws
The change of customs and laws that shakes the sovereignty of Korea like eliminating vehicle tax based on 'engine displacement', changing delivery services, and etc. was agreed upon. Because of KORUS FTA, there are 24 laws that Korea should revise because of the state of the KORUS FTA, while there are almost none that the United States should revise.      
 
9. Treating US investors as domestic investors oversteps the Constitution of the Republic of Korea. The issue of investment restriction demonstrates responsibility.
Treating US investors as domestic investors is considered a stronger clause than equal rights in the Constitution because the KORUS FTA follows the inclusive doctrine. The KORUS FTA states that there are no industries or sectors that can restrict investment entries if you are an American as long as it is not included on reserved lists. American investors who have been restricted investment entry, can refer Korea to the international mediation trial for breaching the provision on 'Treating as domestic investors'. Cases will be filed in the international mediation department rather in the regular courts in Korea and the government has to demonstrate justification of its action and not the American investor.
 
10. An Open Market·Privatization·Restriction mitigation and Labor right aggravation 
The principle of 'An Open·Privatization·Restriction mitigation and Labor right aggravation' penetrating the KORUS FTA would limitlessly strengthen the right of foreign investors in Korea and would limitlessly weaken the right of laborers. Regular and irregular workers in minor enterprises would suffer more damage. 
  
11. Gaesung industrial complex products
The United States would not recognize products from Gaesung industrial complex as Korean products because there is no clauses that admit 'Gaesung industrial complex' products as Korean products. When the KORUS FTA is approved, there is no way to export them.
  
Furthermore, the South Korean government claims that the KORUS FTA will greatly increase US direct investments in the country and will result in the creation of effective employment. But the fact remains that since the foreign exchange crisis in 1997, the investments of American companies into Korea is focused on indirect investments, mainly stock investment. The US direct investment creating employment and transmitting business management know-how is only 8%. Yet the government insists that employment has increased by the expansion of foreign direct investment. There is a high possibility of the augmentation of irregular jobs. It is hard to exclude the possibility that adjusting the domestic laborer arrangement would be requested passively in case of M&A.      
 
Without the KORUS FTA, trade between South Korea and the United States is very active more than any other time. When two countries, with different capital capacities compete for power, it is easy for the weaker country to lose competitive power and become powerless to the stronger country. In addition to it, if the KORUS FTA contained unequal provisions, our country would be seriously deprived of its sovereignty and it would make the people fall into extreme distress.    
 
Most serious damage would be in the agricultural industry. It is presumed that 60-70% of the present agriculture economy value is estimated at 60 trillion won a year. This would eventually disappear at the inception of the trade pact. It means that the current size of agricultural sector would diminish to 30-40%. Of this only 2-3% of farmers would be able to survive.  
 
The United States expects that 40-50% of the Korean agricultural industry's total production would decrease after the KORUS FTA is approved. This represents the 1,750,000 farmers that would consequently take on irregular jobs in the city because of unemployment. This means that the farmer's daily wage would drop, the number of poor class will increase and many people will experience difficult situations.    
 
Another sector of society which will be sacrificed by the KORUS FTA is the workers sector especially the powerless wage earners. Of the total 15,731,000 wage earners, 8,744,000 or 55.6% are irregular workers. Many of them could not escape irregular jobs and the Korean society occupied by most of them would pay enormous expenses due to social conflict. A tremendous loss of national power would occur because of the collapse of egalitarian society and of the koinonia. The social costs will be beyond calculation.  
 
Since the last foreign exchange crisis, South Korea adopted neo-liberalism capitalism and it rapidly entered the economic system led by the IMF and as the result the gap between the poor and the rich has widened. The people who had hope for a democratic government asking for a responsible participatory government, elected Mr. Lee Myung-Bak. He was a CEO and had a campaign slogan, "A better life for all". Four years has passed by since President Lee Myung-Bak took over the reins of government, but the people have fallen into great despair. They cannot trust any political party. At the advent of the political campaign for next year’s presidential elections, people are looking for probable presidential candidates. People are infected with the Mr. Ahn Chul-Soo syndrome or blown away by the Mr. Park Won-Soon storm. This phenomenon which recently occur, are examples that pitiable politicians that do not read the minds of the people.        
 
We know that when all of the contradictions KORUS FTA are discovered after it becomes effective, the people who did not have time to figure out the process of the KORUS FTA because they try to survive, they will hold the present and the successor governments, regardless of their political affiliations, accountable on the severe impact of the trade pact on their quality of life. The people’s uprising or demonstration that occurred in England and the United States, are signs of what kind of destiny the government's policy will lead us to, a fragmented society.
 
We urge you Mr. Barak Obama, President of the United States of America: You are standing at historical crossroads, make a decision which will serve the best interests of the Korean people and for the future of our nation. Who can cope with the social milieu where people fall into misery and shed tears of pain, and who would take responsibility when farmers, independent enterprise owners, and minor enterprises which comprise the majority are driven to the jaws of death, while a handful of monopoly companies gain advantageous profit from this unfair trade pact? 
 
We hope that as President of the United States of America make a decision according to your faith and conviction. Choose between being immortalized in history as a villain or making a wise and courageous decision that show your conviction and hope of a world where justice resides. 
 
 
 
 
Rev. You Jung-Sung
Moderator
The Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea (PROK)
 
 
Rev. Bae Tae-Jin
General Secretary
The Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea (PROK)
 

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