EU, South Korea to discuss free trade agreement

April 16th, 2008 - 1:31 pm ICT by admin  

Seoul, April 16 (IANS) Officials from South Korea and the European Union (EU) would discuss a bilateral free trade agreement in Japan next week, Seoul’s chief negotiator for the talks has said. If implemented, the free trade pact would be the largest for South Korea, overtaking the agreement signed with the US, which is still under legislative review, WAM news agency reported Wednesday.

Auto tariff and auto-related technical standards, among other issues, are regarded as major hurdles for the agreement. Brussels wants Seoul to cut regulations for European carmakers by applying international standards instead of domestic rules.

The 27-nation economic bloc is demanding that South Korea cut tariffs on cars and other products to the same extent that it did in the trade deal with the US.

The EU is largest foreign investor in South Korea and its second-largest trading partner after China, with bilateral trade reaching $89.8 billion in 2007. Some unofficial studies suggest a free trade agreement would boost that figure by as much as 40 percent in the long run.

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

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