米韓首脳会談 日本のTPP参加促すFTA

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Oct. 17, 2011)
U.S.-South Korea pact should spur Japan on TPP
米韓首脳会談 日本のTPP参加促すFTA(10月16日付・読売社説)

The alliance between the United States and South Korea can be said to have deepened to a new dimension with the latest reinforcement of their bilateral economic relations.

South Korean President Lee Myung Bak and U.S. President Barack Obama held talks in Washington on Thursday and agreed that a free trade agreement between the two countries would take effect soon.

South Korea and the United States agreed on the free trade accord four years ago, but ratification was delayed in both countries.

The U.S. Congress approved the agreement Wednesday, and the South Korean National Assembly is expected to do so this year.

The U.S.-South Korea FTA is expected to take effect as early as next January.

Once it is in effect, 95 percent of goods traded between the two countries will be duty-free within five years.

The Obama administration expects the U.S.-South Korea FTA to boost U.S. exports by 11 billion dollars (about 850 billion yen) a year and create more than 70,000 jobs in the United States.


Jobs top priority for Obama

With a U.S. presidential election scheduled for November 2012, employment has become the highest priority for the Obama administration, as the jobless rate remains high at 9 percent.

The administration has high hopes for the FTA with South Korea, the biggest such deal since the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico in 1994.

South Korea expects the FTA to push up its gross domestic product by 5.7 percent and create 350,000 jobs.  韓国も、国内総生産(GDP)を5・7%押し上げ、35万人の雇用増につながると試算する。

South Korea, which already has an FTA in effect with the European Union, will gain a further boost to its exports as a result of an expanded market.

More than 60 percent of South Korea's trade is conducted with its FTA partner countries and regions, including those with which it is currently negotiating trade deals.

Japan lags South Korea in this regard--its trade with FTA partners accounts for less than 40 percent of the total.

It is understandable that export-oriented business sectors, including the automobile industry, are becoming increasingly alarmed, as this could put them at a disadvantage with South Korean rivals.

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda should swiftly decide that Japan will participate in talks on the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade accord.

Obama hopes to reach a broad agreement with other participants in the TPP talks at the summit meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Hawaii next month.


Check on China

The TPP will help the United States create a U.S.-led economic zone in Asia--a base for global economic growth--and serve as a check on China, which is increasing its influence.

Also, stronger relations with South Korea, a U.S. ally and neighbor of China, are geopolitically significant for the United States.

In an indication of the importance the United States attaches to South Korea, it is backing South Korea's bid to host a meeting of Group of 20 leaders in Seoul and regards the U.S.-South Korea alliance as a cornerstone for the security of the Pacific region.

During their latest talks, the leaders of the United States and South Korea also agreed to strengthen cooperation so their countries could respond promptly and effectively to North Korea, which is continuing its nuclear and missile development.

Noda, who will visit South Korea on Tuesday, must work to strengthen bilateral ties with South Korea from a strategic viewpoint, through such means as early resumption of talks on a bilateral economic partnership and a coordinated response to North Korea.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Oct. 16, 2011)
(2011年10月16日01時09分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2011-10-18 07:37 | 英字新聞

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