U.S. firms operating in Korea can be subject to secretive regulations and governmental interference of a sort that would be unthinkable domestically, but are far too common overseas.
The FTA establishes a legal framework that will protect U.S. investments in Korea and guarantee that U.S. companies operating in Korea are afforded the same rights and opportunities as Korean companies.
U.S. law already grants substantive and procedural protections to foreign investors operating in the U.S. Korean companies are already afforded the same rights and opportunities in the U.S. as U.S. companies.
To ensure that the Korean government enforces these investor protections, the FTA establishes a binding and transparent arbitration mechanism, under which investors may bring a claim for any breach of these guarantees.
All the work of the tribunal will be made publicly available, much like the decisions of a US Court would. The tribunal will accept comments from non-disputing parties who might have an interest in the case.
Korean companies will not be granted any additional rights that go beyond those afforded to American companies.
Some opponents of the FTA have alleged that this section will provide Korean companies with rights greater than those afforded to U.S. companies. Not only is that not true, it is directly rebutted in the text of the agreement which says, "foreign investors are not hereby accorded greater substantive rights with respect to investment protections than domestic investors under domestic law where, as in the United States, protections of investor rights under domestic law equal or exceed those set forth in this Agreement."
Since the U.S. already affords full protections to foreign companies under its legal system, and provides full access to U.S. Courts to foreign companies the dispute mechanism will primarily serve as a way for American companies to get the same protections in Korea.