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British finance lobby calls for EU-S.Korea trade deal

Reuters | Wed Feb 11, 2009

British finance lobby calls for EU-S.Korea trade deal

GENEVA, Feb 11 (Reuters) — A free trade agreement between the European
Union and South Korea could be signed in the next few weeks, offering
great potential for services exports, a British financial sector lobby
group said on Wednesday.

But International Financial Services London, representing banks,
accountants and other financial industries, said it was disappointed
that some European manufacturing groups opposed a deal and were calling
for negotiations to be suspended.

"With the first contraction in world trade for many years, it is all the
more important that trade-expanding agreements of this kind should be
negotiated and brought into effect," said John Cooke, chairman of the
group’s Liberalisation of Trade in Services (LOTIS) committee.

Cooke said in a statement it would be commercially wrong to slow down or
abandon the talks and would also send a signal that the European Union
was ready to turn away from opportunities in goods and services that
were on offer.

"That would be a huge mistake, at the very moment when trade negotiators
should be doing their utmost to advance the cause of maintaining and
expanding global trade," Cooke said.

Cooke also called for renewed efforts to reach a deal in the WTO’s
seven-year-old Doha round, which service sector lobbyists have often
complained neglects their interests.

European carmakers have expressed concern that Brussels might agree to
cut import tariffs on South Korean cars without getting in return a deal
to clear away red tape that they say holds them back in the Asian
country’s car market.

The European Union is South Korea’s second largest export market after
China, while South Korea is the EU’s fourth largest non-European trade
partner. Trade between the two is worth about $100 billion.

South Korea has agreed a free-trade deal with the United States, but
neither side has ratified it because of a row over trade in beef and
concerns by many Democrats that the deal does not do enough to open up
South Korea’s car market. (Reporting by Jonathan Lynn; Editing by Janet