Racing the clock for free trade

Bob Moon Mar 28, 2007
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Racing the clock for free trade

Bob Moon Mar 28, 2007
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TEXT OF INTERVIEW

BOB MOON: It could be the biggest U.S. trade agreement in more than a decade, a deal now being hammered out with the South Korean government. But now, some American companies are saying, ‘hold on here!’ They’re threatening to withdraw their support with a deadline just days away. Financial Times reporter Anna Fifield tells us what the gripe is.

FIFIELD: Well at the moment these trade negotiations are going on in Seoul and they are very intense. There’s a lot of disagreement between the sides even now after 10 rounds of negotiations, so I think U.S. companies like Chevron and Texaco are starting to worry that the U.S. negotiators will give up too much to the South Korean side in order to secure this deal.

MOON: Well this opposition, coming in the 11th hour if you will, is a problem for the Bush administration is it not?

FIFIELD: Yes it is because the Bush administration needs to pass this trade deal if it is agreed through Congress very quickly. President Bush’s authority to fast-track deals through the Congress expires shortly and if major U.S. companies such as Chevron and raise some doubts about this deal, it would certainly weaken the Bush administration’s authority

MOON: Is there any way in sight to get this deal done in time?

FIFIELD: Yes there is. It will be very difficult and it’s probably not going to be the big-bang kind of deal that both sides were hoping for, but the negotiators are working very hard, they say they remain optimistic that they can close some of the gaps and finish this deal by Saturday.

MOON: Anna Fifield with the Financial Times in Seoul, thank you for joining us.

FIFIELD: Sure.

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