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Cablegate: Seoul - Press Bulletin; January 15, 2010

Published: Fri 15 Jan 2010 06:08 AM
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TAGS: PREL PGOV MARR ECON KPAO KS US
SUBJECT: SEOUL - PRESS BULLETIN; JANUARY 15, 2010
TOP HEADLINES
-------------
Chosun Ilbo
N. Korea Proposes Talks on Resuming Cross-Border Tours
JoongAng Ilbo
In Quake-Hit Haiti, Even President Has Nowhere to Go
Dong-a Ilbo, All TVs
Haiti Quake Toll May Top 100,000
Hankook Ilbo, Seoul Shinmun
Job Market Likely to Remain Bleak in 2010
Hankyoreh Shinmun
ROKG Signs MOU with Companies Planning to Invest in Sejong City Even
Before Passage of Sejong City Revision Bill
Segye Ilbo
ROK Wins Deal to Build Jordan's Nuclear Reactor
DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS
---------------------
The ROKG announced yesterday that it would provide emergency
supplies worth $1 million and send relief workers to Haiti which has
been devastated by a massive earthquake. (All)
North Korea yesterday proposed working-level talks on resuming
cross-border tours to Mt. Kumgang and the North's border city of
Kaesong from Jan. 26-27 at Mt. Kumgang. (All)
According to a recent report by U.S. industries to the USTR, 21 U.S.
agro-livestock, food and pharmaceutical companies and groups are
strongly dissatisfied with the ROK's high tariffs and various
non-tariff barriers, and called on the USTR to redress the
situation. (Dong-a)
INTERNATIONAL NEWS
------------------
Special Representative for North Korea Policy Stephen Bosworth, in a
Jan. 13 event hosted by the Korea Economic Institute in Washington,
expressed hope that relevant countries will convene soon to discuss
the North's nuclear issue. (Segye, KBS, VoiceofPeople)
MEDIA ANALYSIS
--------------
-N. Korea
---------
Conservative Segye Ilbo, state-run KBS and VoiceofPeople, a
progressive internet news outlet, quoted Special Representative for
North Korea Policy Stephen Bosworth as saying in a Jan. 13 event
hosted by the Korea Economic Institute in Washington: "When North
Korea comes back to the Six-Party Talks and resumes making progress
for the goal of denuclearization, the Security Council will examine
the appropriateness of a revision of the sanctions resolution." He
was further quoted: "We hope sometime in the next few weeks or
months we could be back to the diplomatic process and begin then
seriously brushing up the terminology and hopefully making some
progress."
-Haiti Earthquake
------------------
All ROK media covered the ROKG's announcement yesterday that it
would provide emergency supplies worth $1 million and send relief
workers to Haiti, devastated by a powerful earthquake that may have
left hundreds of thousands dead.
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Conservative Dong-a Ibo editorialized: "It is high time for the
international community to extend a helping hand in the spirit of
humanitarianism, lest the Haitians collapse into despair. ... Given
the ROK's status in the world, the ROKG's planned $1 million of
relief aid seems rather insufficient. ROK companies and civic
groups should also come forward to help. The ROK owes a lot to
international society. From a humanitarian and moral perspective,
it should proactively help a nation like Haiti that cannot stand on
its own feet."
An editorial in conservative Chosun Ilbo echoed Dong-a Ilbo's
argument, writing in the headline: "Massive Earthquake in Haiti; ROK
Should Provide Help In Line with Its Status as the World's 10th
Largest Economy"
Moderate Hankook Ilbo commented in an editorial: "The earthquake in
Haiti is a disaster in itself. However, the country's poor
infrastructure, corruption and incompetence as a state have made
this disaster grow out of control. ... This is why the international
community, while rushing to help the country, dwells on the man-made
aspects of the disaster."
FEATURES
--------
U.S. AGRO-LIVESTOCK, FOOD AND PHARMACEUTICAL COMPANIES STRONGLY
DISSATISFIED WITH ROK'S TRADE BARRIERS
(Dong-a Ilbo, January 15, Page B1)
By Correspondent Choe young-hae
U.S. agro-livestock, food and pharmaceutical companies and groups
are reportedly strongly dissatisfied with the ROK's high trade
barriers. These groups demanded that the U.S. Trade Representative
(USTR) call on the ROK to remove its high tariffs and various
non-tariff barriers.
The U.S. industry recently submitted an opinion on barriers to ROK
market to the USTR. The 2010 National Trade Estimate Report on
Foreign Trade Barriers will be drawn up from this data and opinions
on barriers to other countries and will be reported to President
Barack Obama and the U.S Congress by late March. The USTR has put
pressure on the U.S.'s trading partners based on this report. This
time, 50 U.S. companies and groups presented 104 opinions on the
U.S.'s 60 major trading partners.
Twenty one companies and groups from different fields voiced their
discontent with the ROK. They include 8 agro-livestock companies
and groups, 5 food companies, 3 industrial goods companies, 2
pharmaceutical and medical device companies, 2 service companies and
1 liquor company. They expressed strong dissatisfaction with high
tariffs (18 to 304%), complicated quarantine procedures, prohibition
of food coloring, cautionary labeling requirements, duplicate tests,
and certification requirements.
The U.S. Rice Federation in Arlington, Virginia demanded that the
ROK fully complies with its quota for U.S. rice imports that goes to
consumers as "table rice."
The Northwest Fruit Growers' Association demanded that the ROK lift
high tariffs on apples (45%), cherries (24%), and pears (45%).
This Association's annual fruit production is worth 2.5 billion
dollars. The American Potato Trade Alliance argued that high
tariffs on frozen and dehydrated potato products should be removed
and that the ROK's import quota for dehydrated potato pieces should
be changed in accordance with the international standard, saying
that the (current) quota amounts to only one shipment per year.
ConAgra Foods, one of the U.S. leading packaged food companies, made
an issue of an 18 percent tariff on frozen potato pieces, for which
the ROK depends entirely on imports. The company said that since
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the ROK already signed the FTA with the EU, a potato exporter, and
is in the final stage of the FTA negotiations with Canada, the
tariff on the U.S. products should be promptly lifted so that the
U.S. will not lose the ROK market to other nations. Yum!
Restaurants International, a Dallas, Texas-based company operating
over 34,000 franchise restaurants, claimed that high tariffs on farm
produce and restaurant equipment should be removed.
A group representative of food, beverage, and general consumer
product companies complained that the ROK, the fifth largest market
for U.S. high-priced food products, slaps excessively high tariffs
on their products. The group also pointed out that the ROK's
regulations on quarantine inspections and food labeling changed so
many times. Herbalife, a multinational manufacturer and seller of
supplementary food products, said that high duties on their herbal
teas and cosmetics are high trade barriers.
The U.S. Brewers' Association argued that since a 20 percent tariff
on liquor is too high and as the ROK bans TV ads for liquor
containing more than 17 percent alcohol, U.S. brewers cannot
increase their brand recognition (in the ROK.)
The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America said that
the ROKG's new measures to control pharmaceutical expenditures (the
Policy for the Optimization of the Pharmaceutical Expenditures in
Korean National Health Insurance System) do not have a clear
standard for innovative new medicines and raised concerns that U.S.
pharmaceuticals might be subject to a discriminatory investigation
by the Korea Fair Trade Commission, which is now investing domestic
and innovative drug makers.
Among the 21 business entities that expressed dissatisfaction about
the ROK's trade barriers to the USTR, 15 groups urged an early
ratification of the ROK-U.S. FTA, which would remove tariff
barriers. However, with the mid-term elections slated for November,
the Obama Administration is sensitive to the opinion of U.S.
automakers and their labor unions, which are opposed to the ROK-U.S.
FTA, and therefore, many in Washington political circles think that
it will not be easy to get the FTA ratified within this year.
STEPHENS
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