'Typo' in Korea-EU FTA Threatens Ratification

      February 24, 2011 13:08

      Some figures in the Korea-EU FTA submitted by the government to the National Assembly in October last year are different from the English-language original, it emerged Wednesday. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade admitted the mistake, but lawmakers are angry that it pushed for ratification without correcting them.

      Park Joo-sun of the main opposition Democratic Party on Wednesday said the ministry made a mistake in the course of translating the FTA into Korean and mistyped the percentage of non-originating material permitted for toys and wax goods at 40 percent and 20 percent respectively instead of 50 percent. "If this version had been ratified, we'd have made a considerable loss in tariffs and been subject to an international ridicule," Park said.

      The clause allows Korean-made goods made with a certain proportion of materials imported from elsewhere to be classified as Korean-made and hence benefit from lower tariffs. The European Parliament already ratified the FTA on Feb. 17, and the ruling Grand National Party has insisted on ratification of the deal this month.

      The ministry says the error was merely a typo among thousands of pages and over 5,000 items, not a fundamental mistake. "We found the error while we were preparing for the relevant enforcement regulations, so we are discussing ways to correct the Korean translation with the National Assembly," an official said. "Because we've already told the EU, it's not as serious an issue as the opposition claims."

      The ministry wants to push ahead with ratification without making correction as it would require withdrawal, fresh Cabinet approval and resubmission of the bill, which would inevitably delay the process. "If we step back and do it all over again, we can't get any other work done. But we'll explain it to the EU and make the corrections immediately once the FTA becomes effective."

      But Park said the government "should not demand ratification in haste. It should make due corrections in the Korean version and resubmit the bill." Some lawmakers believe a bill containing such fundamental errors cannot even be laid before the relevant committee.

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