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PSPD    People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy

  • Socio-Economic
  • 2011.05.31
  • 3065

[Press Conference]


Announcement Demanding Verification on S. Korea-EU FTA


-Calling for the dismissal of the Minister of Trade Kim Jong-hoon
-Expressing disapproval of hasty passage of FTA in the April National Assembly session
-Urging an thorough investigation of related standing committees under the National Assembly rules



After the Korea-EU FTA ratification motion was proposed to the National Assembly, it went through two instances of a presidential demand for retraction and three times of Cabinet meetings. Finally, the bill was resubmitted to the National Assembly on April 6th. This was because the government poorly prepared a Korean version of the pact which has more than two hundreds translation errors, and the National Assembly was not aware of any of these errors.  That is a great shame.

Minister of Trade Kim Jong-hoon is primarily responsible for this situation.

We are going to propose a resolution calling for the dismissal of Minister Kim, who brought humiliation on the pact due to the mistranslation, in addition to the humiliating renegotiation of the Korea-US FTA. We will push forward with the resolution in the solidarity from all four opposition parties in the April National Assembly session.  

The Korea-EU FTA calls for a wide range of open market, and its effects on the Korean society are huge. For this reason, we cannot let the National Assembly bypass verification and be tied up with a too-hasty enactment on July 1st, a day which was chosen solely by the Ministry for Trade. The National Assembly must take a closer look at the bill.

We raise our strong objection against the helter-skelter passage of the Korea-EU FTA during the April extra-session of the National Assembly.

Korea-EU FTA has not only a minor mistranslation problem; it cannot be passed without any thorough verification. If the National Assembly abandon its duties and rights on the FTA issue, this kind of abandonment is not admitted.

The lawmakers and the MPs of the Korean civil society who stand here strongly believe that now is the time for us to take a closer look at not only the format of the bill but also its contents. We reaffirm that the National Assembly to approve or not to approve of this treaty is the right and duty given by the Constitution toward Korean people. Now, we announce the 50 points that the National Assembly should verify with the Korean people. 



1. Economic Effects and the Necessity of Huge Economic Blocs under the FTA

The government is exaggerating the economic effects of the Korea-EU FTA based on uncertain statistics whose credibility is even doubted by a national research agency. In particular, with the exception of products of which current import tax falls under a 0 percent, European products subject to tariff removal account for 86.7% of all products, more than that of S. Korea. Still, the government insists on promoting the false assertion that the treaty with the EU is favorable for Korea.

Korea has an open economy, exporting a staggering 2 trillion won a day, highly dependent on foreign trade with the foreign trade dependency of four times more than that of Japan and four and half times more than that of the USA. However, under these circumstances, voices calling for a thorough verification of the FTA are being censured as isolationists, while the government is doing a poor job preparing for the FTA and limiting the damage it will cause. Furthermore, it is obsessed indiscriminately only with the fast effectuation of the pact while merely 7.6% of exporting businesses have been prepared. All these factors led up to a shameful scenario of poor preparation of the Korean version of the FTA and they attempted to get it ratified three times.


2. Agriculture and Public Livelihood

The Korea-EU FTA includes an article which ignores the distribution law and the SSM (Super Supermarket) law, which reached a dramatic agreement by opposing parties with the purpose of protecting local economy and ordinary people’s economic lives in Korea. If the agreement takes effect as it is, it would obviously be a cause of dispute between the EU and Korea. However, the government has neglected to carry out negotiations that might settle this potential dispute.

The results of the negotiations on agriculture would inevitably lead the rapid removal of tariffs on agricultural products and dissolve minimal protection for agriculture. The FTA with the EU brings with it the possibility of destroying our domestic livestock industry, which has already been hit hard by foot-and-mouth disease. However, the government only insists on rapid effectuation of the treaty rather than provides counter-measures. The government did not report the results of agricultural negotiations including a shocking amount of customs-free imported farm produce, safeguard measures on frozen pork, a place-of-origin marking system on food and agricultural products, an export ban on fishpaste and crab stick. Still, the National Assembly has not had opportunities to examine them.


3. Safety and Health

It is the duty of a country to protect environment and people’s safety and health. However, the goal of the Korea-EU FTA is setting non-tariff barrier and putting priorities to restrict tariff seemingly as they think that is a government duty. It bans eco-friendly domestic products in metropolitan community school cafeterias and forces to import European beef which has been hardest hit by mad cow disease, proportionally to U.S. beef. We do not have our own measures to verify whether imported meat is originated from foot-and-mouth disease free areas, but must respect exporting countries' decisions.

Moreover, the agreement includes an article which allows European pharmaceutical companies to regularly intervene in computing the prices of medicines. This will eventually cause an increase of medicine prices, since it restricts using low-cost medicines under the excessive protection of patent rights. Furthermore, safety certification of electrical devices, safety standards for vehicles and vehicle emissions, and current bans on industries which discharge waste water will be removed or lifted; those may harm people’s health and safety.


4. Autocracy on Trade and Harm to Constitutional Order
 
The government reported the reduced number of domestic laws that need revisions to the National Assembly. Much worse, it did not even report some issues which limit the legislative power. The current administration disregarding the National Assembly is trying to reinforce and structuralize an autocracy on trade through this FTA. The Trade Commission led by the minister for trade as a co-chairman, has a full control over every issue regarding the agreement, can bind the nation under its decision, and can even revise some articles of the agreement. Furthermore, it can manage every issue, which means it wields unlimited power and even has authority to interpret the agreement. 

To check the autocracy, the contents of the agreement should be fully reviewed. Even before, trade procedure acts or treaty procedure acts are urgently needed for democratic control on trade agreements.


5. First Announcement of 56 Verification Points of the National Assembly

The Korea-EU FTA includes articles which hinder the regulations of new financial instruments and derivatives including those which caused financial crisis just a few years ago. Moreover, they limit regulatory authority on national and public services, incapacitate  ordinances by local governments, reduce public services provided by the Post Office, and violate the oversight rights of the public interests on infrastructure investment.

The agreement contains unilateral barriers by the EU that the Korean government has not even properly mentioned, antidumping barriers, customs refunds, EU’s unilateral safe-guard act, and intellectual property articles which are wholly unfavorable for Korea; the National Assembly and people should work together to examine the agreement. The book we are distributing here has 56 points which we already checked in a first round, which would be more.


6. Discussion for Thorough Verification in Related Standing Committees

On April 6, after proposing the mode of ratification, the Speaker of the National Assembly sent the proposal to the Foreign Affairs, Trade & Unification Committee as well as the other nine related standing committees. That is a proper legal procedure according to the National Assembly law under the first clause of Article 83.  

To review the verification points, which were clarified here, we urge an immediate discussion by the nine related standing committees. Furthermore, the jurisdictional Foreign Affairs, Trade & Unification Committee should wait until the other standing committees finish discussions, and finish its assessment on the ratification mode with respect to the ideas of the nine standing committees.

Without an overall review over the translation errors and their contents, passing the Korea-EU FTA enforcedly is a deception of the people, and shows disregard of the rights of the National Assembly.

We want to say that if the S. Korea-EU FTA were to be enforced hastily, ignoring our minimum requirements, it will face widespread national resistance.



April 11th 2011

Nationwide Movement against KOR-US & KOR-EU FTA

Emergency Council of MPs for a Complete Termination of KOR-US FTA



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