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 Korea, EU open 7th round of free trade talks
Manager 님의 글입니다. 2008-05-27 07:23:29, Hit : 2,819, Vote : 566

Korea and the European Union (EU) launched their seventh round of free trade negotiations on Tuesday (May 13) to resolve some sticky issues such as tariff concessions and auto-related technical standards.

Since concluding an FTA with the United States last year, Korea has held six rounds of negotiations with the EU in a bid to gain greater footing in the 27-nation economic bloc, Korea's second-largest trading partner after China.      

The negotiations, however, have made little headway as both sides have been reluctant to accept each other's demands on tariff reduction, auto trade and auto-related technical standards, one of the most divisive issues between the two sides.

Lee Hye-min, Seoul's chief negotiator in the talks, held a meeting with his EU counterpart Ignacio Garcia Bercero on Monday ahead of sectional meetings, in an effort to add momentum to the slow-moving free trade talks.

Bilateral trade came to $89.8 billion in 2007, with some unofficial studies suggesting an FTA would boost that figure by as much as 40 percent in the long run. The EU is also the largest foreign investor in Korea, with outstanding investment reaching $44.8 billion at the end of 2007.

Korea demands the EU ease its rules of origin, under which a product is considered as manufactured by a trading partner only if at least 60 percent of the finished item is made in that country.

"The EU side has softened its stance on the rules of origin, but its offer should further improve," a Korean negotiator said, asking not to be named.

Auto tariff and auto-related technical standards, among other issues, are also major hurdles to a bilateral FTA. Brussels wants Seoul to cut regulations on European carmakers by applying international standards instead of domestic rules.

The EU demands that Korea cut tariffs on cars and other products to the same extent that it did in its trade deal with the U.S.

Seoul says it would remove all tariffs on industrial goods within three years with some exceptions, and eliminate tariffs on roughly 72 percent of EU goods as measured by value in three years, compared with 68 percent in a previous offer.        

But the EU expressed disappointment with South Korea's offer, saying it falls short of the accord Seoul signed with Washington in June.

The EU is demanding that Korea cut tariffs on cars and other products to the same extent that it did in the trade deal with the United States.

Korea is seeking to sign FTAs with as many countries as possible in an effort to power its export-oriented economy.

Currently, Korea has FTAs with Chile, Singapore and the European Free Trade Association as well as a partial pact with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Seoul is also seeking similar trade deals with Canada, India and Mexico.


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