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South Korea | Brussels, 9 April 2019

Commissioner Malmström in Seoul to check up on EU-Korea trade agreement and push for improvements

EU Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström today co-chaired the 8th Trade Committee set up by the EU-South-Korea trade agreement. The Trade Committee is the most important institutional body established under the agreement. Its role is to ensure that the agreement operates properly, as well as to supervise and facilitate its overall implementation.

In place since 2011, the trade agreement has been an economic success. During its 8 years of implementation, trade in goods between the two sides has increased by 48%. Trade in services has also grown significantly by 82% and 66% for the EU and Korea respectively. Economic gains due to the trade agreement have been estimated at around €5 billion for each economy, according to an external evaluation done for the European Commission.

Nevertheless, the Commissioner raised a number of recurring issues that need to be addressed by the Korean side as soon as possible.

For example, she raised the issue of the ban on EU beef exports to Korea. The EU considers this ban discriminatory as the EU countries concerned meet the same high sanitary standards as those countries that enjoy market access for beef in Korea.

Another point on the agenda was Korea’s implementation of the trade and sustainable development provisions of the agreement.  In this respect, the Commissioner expressed the importance of ratifying the pending four fundamental International Labour Organisation (ILO) conventions (encompassing two conventions on freedom of association and two on the right to collective bargaining) and of bringing labour laws in line with core ILO principles.

The Commissioner also stressed the need to look into ways to resolve issues concerning the unpredictable regulatory changes, lengthy administrative procedures and discretionary enforcement that are affecting EU businesses and the investment climate in Korea.

Finally, both sides agreed to look into ways to modernise the agreement so that it can serve business and citizens on both sides as effectively as possible.

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