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Protesters hurt in South Korea-U.S. trade talk clashes
Cat : Sustainable development
Date : 2006-10-24 17:09:48                      Reader : 267

countries were taken one by one for free trade agreement with U.S. It will be more fair, if negotiations take place on a wider scale like Arab League for Arabs, Asian Tigers coalition , African Union , etc..

Google .com 24/10/2006

Protesters hurt in South Korea-U.S. trade talk clashes

By Lee Jae-won

SOGWIPO, South Korea, Oct 24 (Reuters) - Several protesters were injured on Tuesday in battles with police on the southern island of Cheju over negotiations that they fear would open South Korea's markets unfairly to the United States.

U.S. and South Korean negotiators are in a fourth round of talks to narrow differences over how to open their markets for farm goods, textiles, automobiles and pharmaceuticals.

The pact has run into opposition from farmers and unionists who fear the effect on their livelihoods and has also fallen foul of tensions between Washington and Seoul over neighbouring North Korea's nuclear test earlier this month.

On Tuesday about 500 farmers, fishermen and civic group activists held a rally and tried to march to the hotel where the negotiations were taking place.

The carried a bier decorated with paper flowers and chanted: "The South Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement is dead ... We oppose North Korea santions and war."

They hurled stones at riot police who had set up barricades at the hotel entrance and who beat back the protesters using batons and blasts of water.

Several protesters were hurt in the melee, witnesses said, and one lost consciousness. South Korean television said six protestors and one policeman were injured.

MARCH DEADLINE

Negotiators in the trade deal effectively have an end-of-March deadline as the Bush administration's fast-track authority to negotiate trade deals that Congress can only approve or reject expires in July, and three months are needed for any deal to obtain Congressional ratification.

The South Koreans have said they are disappointed that the United States has not offered more, for example on opening its textile sector. The Americans want further concessions on South Korea's politically sensitive rice market.

Seoul agreed to implement U.N. financial and arms sanctions imposed after North Korea's Oct. 9 nuclear test but has been waffling about whether it will go so far as to close a popular mountain resort and a symbolically important industrial park, both in the North and run by a South Korean company.

The South Koreans have long wanted goods from the industrial park at Kaesong in North Korea to be included in any free trade pact with the United States, which Washington has flatly rejected and would seem almost impossible after the tests.

Seoul appears to be softening on the issue, officials said.

South Korean foreign ministry officials had no comment on the progress of the talks, which are expected to end on Friday. U.S. officials were also unavailable for comment.

South Korea is the world's 10th largest economy and the seventh largest U.S. trading partner, with two-way trade totalling about $72 billion last year.

(Additional reporting by Kim Yeon-hee and Jang Sera)


 
 
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