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Korean trade protesters arrive in US
With the opening of the free trade agreement between Korea and the U.S. three days ahead, about 160 members of a government negotiation team and an anti-negotiation protest expedition arrived in Washington D.C. together on June 3.

The first round of the negotiations, which will be held from June 5 to June 9, will mainly serve as a chance to find out each other’s negotiation strategies.

In the first round to be attended by Kim Jong-hun, ambassador of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and U.S. government institutions such as the USTR and the Department of State, 22 fields, including agriculture, textiles and telecommunications will be discussed. The U.S. negotiation team consists of 60 people.

Choi Seok-young, an economic representative at the Korean embassy in the U.S. said in a press conference on June 2, “It seems that Korea will mainly focus on the agricultural field such as the rice market, and the U.S. will aggressively deal with the protection of industrial products, such as textiles.”

This negotiation team includes professional translators. An official said, “Even though the negotiation team is specialized in telecommunications and medicine, we intentionally use interpreters in order to have a more quiet atmosphere and obtain common understanding.” The second round will be held in Seoul in July.

Meanwhile, it is said that the protest expedition aimed at hampering the FTA between Korea and the U.S. is likely to go to New York via a third city, since in the process of entering the Washington airport, their entry could be a problem.

All 50 of the protesters began to demonstrate in alliance with some 100 members of a Korean civic group in the U.S. and hundreds of members of ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) around the White House starting June 4.

An official of the protest expedition said, “Our objective is to get across our message that some Koreans are against the FTA negotiations. We will do our best to demonstrate peacefully.”

In a protest on that day, some congressmen of the Democratic Party, including Dennis Kucinich, also participated. They represented manufacturing unions in the U.S. who fear that American jobs will be lost because of FTAs.

However, the leadership of the Democratic Party sent a letter to George W. Bush last month to urge him to ensure that the FTA between Korea and the U.S. make a tangible and meaningful approach to the Korean automobile market.
MGR Archive 5.6.2006
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