Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon urged the central government to review controversial clauses in the Korea-U.S. free trade agreement. Opposition parties say the so-called investor-state dispute clauses would harm the Korean government's position.
Park on Monday submitted an official letter to the ministries of foreign affairs and trade and of public administration and security warning against ratification of the bilateral FTA in its current form.
During his election campaign in October, Park declined to answer questions about the Korea-U.S. FTA, saying he had not collected his thoughts on the issue yet. It appears he has now made up his mind to oppose it.
It is unusual for a metropolitan mayor to clarify his official opinion on a matter of national policy. The National Assembly has been in an epic stalemate over the ratification of the FTA, which was signed in 2007.
Park had no legal obligation nor was asked by the central government to express his view on this issue, but he said the matter could affect the city government.
"American companies could file complaints against the central and regional governments with international arbitration organizations if they suffer losses in the Korean market after the FTA is ratified," Park said in the letter. "Therefore, the ISD clauses in the Korea-U.S. FTA should be reviewed because Seoul city and its citizens could be affected."
This chimes with the argument of the opposition parties.