South Korea's lobby for large conglomerates on Thursday called for the speedy ratification of a free trade agreement (FTA) with the United States, saying it will fuel trade and economic growth.
The free trade deal, known as the KORUS FTA, was signed in June 2007 and ratified by the U.S. Congress last month. Seoul is under mounting pressure to follow suit, with both sides hoping to implement the deal starting next year.
At a meeting of top executives, the Federation of Korean Industries (FKI) expressed concerns over the delay in the agreement's passage, which could affect the original time table for lowering tariffs.
"Lawmakers must take steps to reflect the best interests of the country," the FKI said. "Ratifying the trade pact will improve trade conditions and market access to the North American country and bolster South Korea's brand image abroad."
The FTA will permit South Korea to make the next leap forward in joining the ranks of world's leading industrialized economies, the federation claimed.
The free trade deal has been in parliamentary limbo in South Korea as the country's ruling and main opposition parties remain deadlocked over its passage.
The FKI, meanwhile, said that due to economic uncertainties triggered by the U.S. economic slowdown and the eurozone crisis, South Korea may only manage growth in the mid 3 percent range in 2012, down from around 4.5 percent gains forecast by the government for this year.