DP considers Lee’s pledge to revise ISD

Posted on : 2011-11-16 10:03 KST Modified on : 2019-10-19 20:29 KST
Their response will likely spark a railroad by the ruling party or compromise for bipartisan passage of the KORUS FTA
 Nov. 15. (Cheong Wa Dae photo pool)
Nov. 15. (Cheong Wa Dae photo pool)

By Lee Tae-hee, Staff Writer and Seong Yeon-cheol 


President Lee Myung-bak told members of the ruling and opposition party leadership Tuesday that if the National Assembly asked him for renegotiations on the South Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement’s (KORUS FTA) investor-state dispute (ISD) provisions, he would pass the request on the U.S. and bring it into renegotiations within three months, participants reported.

The president was meeting with the ruling and opposition to urge passage of the KORUS FTA ratification. His announcement of plans to demand renegotiations with the U.S. on the ISD provisions, the most contentious issue with the agreement, marks a new stage in the saga of the KORUS FTA ratification passage. If the Democratic Party (DP) and other opposition parties accept the proposal, procedures will begin for a “consensus passage” of the ratification. But if they refuse, the ruling Grand National Party (GNP) will take this as an end to discussions and embark upon unilateral passage. Observers say the ball is effectively in the DP’s court.

Observers are also predicting a high probability that the Lee administration and GNP will force the ratification through, arguing that the DP’s initial demands were met with the president’s pledge.

The GNP has already begun efforts at using the pledge to pressure the party. Floor leader Hwang Woo-yea said, “The head of state has guaranteed renegotiations in the ISD issue.” The two strands in the GNP advocating dialogue on one hand and forced passage on the other are unanimous in arguing that the “time for a decision has come,” regardless of whether the opposition takes the president up on his proposal.

The DP plans to hold a general lawmakers’ meeting Wednesday to decide on a position regarding the proposal. DP spokesman Lee Yong-sup said, “[DP] Chairman Sohn Hak-kyu has repeatedly affirmed that the ISD provisions at least must be abandoned if the KORUS FTA is to be passed.”

“But since the president has made this proposal, he said he would communicate this within the party,” Lee added.

Lee went on to say, “Chairman Sohn made it clear that if the president proposes renegotiations on the ISD provisions but they fail to develop, he would allow the president to take responsibility and work for ISD renegotiations.”

Following the meeting Tuesday, Sohn met separately to consult with DP floor leader Kim Jin-pyo, but the two were unable to reach an agreement.

Opinions within the DP are currently divided as to whether to reject or consider the proposal. Observers are predicting conflict within the party over the method of passage, with divisions into camps in favor of negotiation or a more militant approach.

A DP official said, “What President Lee said is no different from the content of a previous bipartisan floor leader consensus that fell through because the Democratic Party rejected it.”

“Even if President Lee made a pledge, it will end in nothing if the ratification passes and they say, ‘The U.S. won’t agree to renegotiations,’” the official added.

“President Lee has had many opportunities to meet with President [Barack] Obama, and the fact that he did not discuss the matter then makes it difficult to trust him now,” the official said.


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