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Transition team, ministry clash over removal of trade function

Transition team, ministry clash over removal of trade function

Posted February. 05, 2013 07:00,   


The presidential transition committee and the Foreign Affairs and Trade Ministry clashed Monday over the former`s plans to remove trade-related functions from the ministry.

President-elect Park Geun-hye said the move will not cause problem, while the ministry publicly opposed it. In response, the committee blasted the ministry.

Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan said Monday, "(The separation of foreign affairs and trade) is tantamount to shaking the foundations of the Constitution and the Government Organization Law." He also questioned the revision of law on the "appointment of power for government delegates and special envoys" that contains transfer of authority on treaty conclusion and ratification, which had been exercised by the foreign minister, to the industry and commerce minister.

"It is an international custom that the foreign minister represents a country and handles treaty contracts. This is stated in the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties," Minister Kim said, adding, "It is against international law to have the industry and commerce minister take charge of trade treaties." Kim said he made his comments for the sake of the country as he ends his 37-year public career.

Transition Committee vice chairman Jin Young hit back at the minister in an emergency briefing, saying, "Kim`s statement is unconstitutional sophistry and ministry-egotism.” He said, "The foreign minister is distorting the spirit of the Constitution and is infringing on the president`s authority as stipulated in the Constitution. The Government Organization Law is based on the Constitution and its content can be revised in parliament."

The intra-governmental conflict is spreading to the private sector. According to a survey of 32 global trade experts belonging to the International Economic Law Association of Korea, which was conducted by the association between Jan. 25 and 30, 24 (75 percent) opposed the removal of the trade function from the Foreign Ministry. Only four (12.5 percent) supported the plan.

Twenty-three economic and industry groups, including the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Korea International Trade Association and Korea Federation of Small and Medium Business, supported the committee`s plan, running a newspaper ad reading, "Transferring the trade function to the Industry Ministry is the proper option." Those from the groups said, "The move will ease inconvenience of industries while helping the country reap trade benefits and promote national interests."