Mon 26 Sep, 2011 11:49 pm
The U.S. is expected to submit a bill to ratify the free trade deal with Korea to Congress early next month that could be passed quickly, said Korean Ambassador to Washington Han Duck-soo Friday.
"The White House is expected to submit a bill to approve the free trade agreement between Korea and the U.S. to the U.S. Congress in early October," he said, adding, "If the bill is introduced, it can pass Congress within 10 days."
In a parliamentary inspection of the government by the parliamentary committee on foreign affairs, trade and unification at the embassy Friday, Han said on the prospects of ratification, "If a bill to ratify the free trade agreement is introduced to Congress, it will go through approval procedures at a rapid pace."
With the extension of the Trade Adjustment Assistance program, which is considered the most difficult among procedures to ratify the pact, passing the Senate Thursday, two of the five ratification stages that Democrats and Republicans have agreed on have been completed, Han said.
"Considering the two stages are the most difficult, 70 percent has been completed," he said.
His comment is a signal that the accord is highly likely to be ratified in the U.S. before the Oct. 13 summit between U.S. President Barack Obama and Korean President Lee Myung-bak in Washington.
On the remaining procedures in Congress, Han said, "Democrats and Republicans have different opinions on which one they will handle first between the bill on the accord and that on the (Trade Adjustment Assistance), but if an agreement is reached, the accord will be ratified soon since Democrats and Republicans have already agreed to approve it."
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen also told a committee on free trade agreements Friday that the U.S. administration will soon submit bills on ratification of free trade agreements with Korea, Colombia and Panama to Congress.
She added that the approval of the Korea-U.S. deal before President Lee`s visit to Washington will reaffirm the solid bilateral alliance.