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Ministry to review FTA documents, translations

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade will review the entire text of the Korean-language version of the Korea-EU Free Trade Agreement, and correct any errors found before the provisional session of the National Assembly scheduled to begin in April.

“Review will take place over the next three weeks from today until the end of March,” Deputy Trade Minister Choi Seok-young said.

“A temporary taskforce led by a director-level official will be set up, and officials responsible for different areas will take part in the process.”

The measures follow a series of mistranslations and mistakes found in the Korea-E.U. FTA documents translated into Korean, the first of which came to light in late February, five months after the pact was signed on October 6, 2010.

On Feb. 25, the ministry announced that mistakes regarding the proportion of imported raw materials used in wax and toy products to be eligible for tax exemption under the trade pact will be changed, after the errors were singled out by trade law specialist Song Gi-ho.

The latest mistakes to be corrected, announced on Monday, involved four items, one of which was a clause regarding architectural services that is absent from the English version of the document.

In addition to the Korea-EU FTA, Choi said that the taskforce will also review the trade pact with the United States and Peru for any errors that may have been overlooked.

The documents regarding the pact with Peru will be reviewed during March and April, while the process of reviewing that with the U.S. will begin in mid March, the ministry said.

Along with the temporary taskforce, the ministry said that it will add the function of translating and reviewing trade documents to the Trade Dispute Settlement Division, which has until now been tasked mainly with legal issues.

“We will send four additional ministry employees to the division, and hire three new workers for the function,” Choi said. He added that the reposting of ministry employees will take place in the near future, but that hiring new workers may take some time.

The ministry will also improve the translation process, and add a three-step reviewing system to prevent a repeat of such incidents, Choi said.

The three-step review will involve concerned government bodies, outside experts and public consultation, which the ministry plans to conduct through its website.

Once the measures are in place, the ministry’s translation process will be conducted in six stages. In the first stage a rough draft of the translation will be made, once the first draft of the translated version is complete concerned government bodies will hold a meeting. In the third stage, the first draft will be subjected to a three-step review, after which the second draft will be made.

The second draft will then be reviewed by the Ministry of Government Legislation, before being submitted to the Cabinet meeting in the sixth and final stage, the Trade Ministry said.

The ministry estimates the six stages to require up to six months to complete.

By Choi He-suk  (cheesuk@heraldcorp.com)
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