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News article21 September 2017Service for Foreign Policy Instruments

European Commissioner opens the 2017 EU-Korea Business Forum – Assessment of the European Union -Korea Free Trade Agreement after 6 years in force

(Seoul, Korea) The European Union (EU) Delegation to the Republic of Korea organised the 2017 EU-Korea Business Forum in Seoul on 21 September 2017, entitled "The EU-Korea FTA: A shelter against protectionism – supporting growth". Ms Cecilia Malmström, Commissioner for Trade in the European Commission opened the event with a key note speech followed by a Q&A session. The Forum was supported by the European Chamber of Commerce in Korea (ECCK) and the Korea International Trade Association (KITA). In celebration of the 6th Anniversary of the implementation of the EU-Korea FTA, the Forum brought together EU and Korean business representatives, Korean importers and consumers, and offered an opportunity to present the results of the EU's FTA evaluation study for the public.

The congratulatory and introductory remarks were made respectively by Mr. Junggwan Kim, Vice-Chairman of the KITA and by Mr. Dimitris Psillakis, Chairman of the ECCK.

Notably, EU Trade Commissioner Malmström lauded the EU-Korea FTA, one of the first and most ambitious of a new generation of EU trade deals, now in application for 6 years. She said that the FTA eliminated almost 99% of customs duties between the EU and Korea whilst also opening trade in sectors ranging from telecoms to finance, law to shipping and extending access to procurement markets. The FTA also helped to tackle non-tariff barriers in areas like cars, electronics, chemicals and medicines, as well as in areas where further work is needed like phytosanitary or intellectual property. She underlined that FTA provisions on sustainable development, including labour rights, are an integral part of the EU-Korea FTA. Trade did not come at the cost of the environment or of people's rights, particularly amid the growing recognition of value-based trade. She warned against the rising risk of protectionism, emphasising the EU's unwavering commitment to free and fair trade that can help economies to grow.

At the Forum, the EU presented the results of a qualitative assessment study of the EU-Korea FTA by external consultants, which it launched in September 2016 with the support of the EU Partnership Instrument. Participants held an in-depth discussion of the effectiveness and efficiency of the FTA implementation as well as the challenges and opportunities ahead.

The overall assessment of the EU-Korea FTA is very positive. There was much evidence from the analysis of the questionnaire results and the qualitative interviews that the FTA implementation has been effective and efficient in qualitative terms for EU business operators in Korea, and for importers, distributors and Korean consumers. The Study confirms that the FTA has achieved many of the objectives established in the EU-Korea FTA and also many of the economic results foreseen by the EU-Korea FTA Sustainability Impact Assessment and other studies done in advance of the implementation of the FTA.

While recognising that the EU-Korea FTA has succeeded in addressing beyond-the-border issues and much has been achieved, enterprises and other stakeholders pointed out that there were still some complex and challenging issues to tackle over the next years.

Contact Name: Ms Jungyoon KIM

Organization: European Union Delegation to the Republic of Korea

Phone Number: 010 8082 7954

EmaiI: jungyoon [dot] kimateeas [dot] europa [dot] eu (jungyoon[dot]kim[at]eeas[dot]europa[dot]eu)


Publication date
21 September 2017
Service for Foreign Policy Instruments