South Korea pulls EU trade deal to fix translation errors

April 6, 2011 - 0:0
SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea will withdraw the text of a free trade agreement with the European Union from parliament because it is riddled with translation errors and introduce a new one in the hope of getting it ratified by July, its chief trade official said. The admission by Minister for Trade Kim Jong-hoon that the bill before parliament is unacceptable for further debate until 32 newly discovered errors are fixed is fresh embarrassment for President Lee Myung-bak's government as it tries to pass legislation as it enters its final two years in office. The ruling Grand National Party has said it wants to pass the deal in April, but a politically charged by-election late in the month make it questionable whether the assembly can muster the discipline for serious legislative work. ""We will soon be sending a new trade bill to parliament that corrects the errors,"" Kim told a briefing. ""I feel deep responsibility as the person in charge. I apologize for not paying greater and detailed attention."" Kim said a new audit of the text of the translation put before parliament discovered 32 new errors due largely to stress on overworked employees. His ministry would be replacing the bill with a new one at a cabinet meeting, he said. The European Parliament approved the deal in February, clearing the way for the EU's largest bilateral free trade deal to take effect from July as pledged by the two sides. The pact aims to scrap 98 percent of import duties -- 1.6 billion euros (1.4 billion pounds) of South Korean duties and 11 billion euros of EU duties -- as well as trade barriers in manufactured goods, farm products and services over the next five years. The trade bill with the European Union was expected to face little opposition in South Korea's parliament compared with a similar pact with the United States, which also needs approval by the ruling party-controlled assembly. Asia's fourth largest economy has a small but politically vocal farm lobby that has voiced opposition to the deal with the United States, claiming it does not do enough to protect farmers who will be hurt by a surge in imports.