South Korean President Lee Myung-bak urged the parliament Monday to ratify a two-way free trade agreement with the United States, with U.S. Congress poised to pass the long-pending deal.
"The ratification bill for the South Korea-U.S. free trade agreement needs to be urgently dealt with in terms of national competitiveness," Lee said in a budget speech to the parliament.
"The U.S. Congress is expected to soon ratify the deal. I ask the parliament to pass the bill at an early date in consideration of national interests,"he said.
Endorsement of the pact with the U.S. will make South Korea the only country with free trade agreements with three largest economic blocs, namely the United States, the European Union and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the president added.
His remarks came ahead of his planned visit to Washington, which is expected to coincide with the U.S. legislative approval of the trade deal.
South Korea's opposition parties have vowed to block the passage of the deal, signed in 2007 and supplemented last December, saying it is lopsided in favor of Washington.