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Unformatted text preview: . beef, provide the most recent example of this phenomenon. Global public opinion polling
conducted by the Pew Research Center in 2008 indicated that in March/ April 2008—one month before the beef protests began—70% of
South Koreans had favorable views of the U.S., the highest rating among the 24 countries included in the survey. A certain degree of drama and vacillation in sentiment will always be inherent in ROK-U.S. ties, largely because the stakes
of the relationship are so high. But careful management of hot-button issues can mitigate the intensity
of flareups in negative sentiment. In order to maintain the current momentum, the Obama and Lee
administrations will need to handle with caution three areas, in particular, in the coming year: The U.S.Korea FTA The December 2010 agreement on the U.S.-Korea FTA and the newly Republican controlled House of Representatives
are both likely to significantly increase the chances for the FTA’s passage in Washington. However, Obama still has to address
concerns among individual lawmakers and American farmers over South Korea’s continued ban on imports of U.S. beef over the age of
30 months, an issue that Seoul successfully managed to keep off the negotiation table in December. The results of the Chicago Council
survey indicate that, in this era of high unemployment and widespread economic hardship [CARD CONTINUES] Gonzaga Debate Institute 2011
Politics Impact – SKFTA Good – Alliance – AT – SKFTA Not Key (2/2)
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in the U.S., support among the American public for the KoreaU.S. FTA, and FTAs in general, is tepid at best.
As a result, Obama does not feel a great deal of public pressure to pass this agreement, and pressure from the
beef industry may prove too difficult to resist. On the other hand, any attempts to press Seoul to revise its
beef import restrictions risk public outcry in South Korea, particularly if Lee is perceived as caving to U.S.
demands. The passage of the agreement in Seoul could also be complicated by criticism among opposition
parties that South Korea bowed to U.S. pressure in exchange for U.S. security assurances during the
December 2010 round of negotiations, which coincided with the aftermath of North Korea’s attack on
Yeonpyeong Island at a time when South Korea was feeling particularly vulnerable. Although overcoming
Obama’s reluctance to engage on trade was significant, the year ahead will require a delicate
balancing act in both capitals to move the FTA forward. The likely path to a return to Six-Party
negotiations would entail four steps: (1) North Korea engages in inter-Korean military talks and
acknowledges the Cheonan sinking and Yeonpyeong Island artillery attack in ways acceptable to Seoul; (2)
the U.S. and North Korea engage informally, perhaps on the sidelines of Track 2 dialogue, to confirm
Pyongyang’s willingness to honor the 2005 and 2007 denuclearization agreements; (3) an informal Six-Party
meeting (heads of delegations) convenes in Beijing; and (4) formal resumption of the talks follows. At the
end of 2010, there does not appear to be much prospect for a resumption of negotiations. Seoul and
Washington remain closely aligned, but another...
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- Spring '13