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S Korean president to visit parliament over stalled trade bill


10:00, November 15, 2011

SEOUL, Nov. 15 (Xinhua) -- South Korean President Lee Myung-bak plans to visit the parliament Tuesday in a last-ditch effort to persuade opposition lawmakers to endorse a free trade pact with the United States, local media reported.

The visit is Lee's second attempt to help break the parliamentary impasse over the two-way trade accord, vehemently opposed by opposition lawmakers for the protection of domestic industries.

Lee had previously planned a similar visit, but the plan fell through due to opposition criticism that the president is trying to force the parliament to pass the ratification bill.

The trade deal has been one of the most polarizing political issues since it was signed in 2007, with liberal and left-leaning opposition parties vowing to block what they see as a lopsided agreement in favor of Washington.

The U.S. Congress approved the agreement only after Seoul and Washington renegotiated parts of the deal late last year to assuage U.S. auto industry's concerns about auto trade imbalance.

Think tanks here say the bilateral deal will create 350,000 new jobs and increase South Korea's gross domestic product by 5.66 percent, but critics dispute the estimate.

The latest bone of contention has been the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISD) clause in the trade pact, which allows U.S. investors to settle disputes with the South Korean government at international courts.

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