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EU FTA would increase trade by $98.4 billion

JoongAng Daily, Korea

EU FTA would increase trade by $98.4 billion

The bloc was Korea’s No. 2 trading partner in 2008, and its biggest source of investment.

8 October 2009

Yonhap News. A free trade agreement between Korea and the European Union will eventually increase bilateral trade by about 20 percent if it is fully implemented, British Business Secretary Peter Mandelson estimated yesterday.

After two years, Korea and the EU wrapped up trade talks in July with the two sides agreeing to sign a preliminary deal this month.

In a speech to business executives in Seoul, Mandelson predicted the deal would boost two-way trade, which hit 66.8 billion euros ($98.4 billion) last year, by 13 billion euros.

“The EU-Korea FTA, assuming that we can ensure that it is successfully ratified, will further deepen Korean access to this market,” Mandelson said at a breakfast meeting held by the Federation of Korean Industries, the nation’s top business lobby, at the Seoul Plaza hotel in central Seoul.

Mandelson, who served as EU trade commissioner when the 27-nation economic bloc launched free trade talks with Korea in 2007, said the pact would open up new opportunities for Korean companies to attract British and European investment.

He also expected the deal to take effect next year, echoing views from Korean officials.

It would be first free trade deal in Asia for the EU, Korea’s second-biggest trading partner after China and its top foreign investor in 2008.

After the deal is signed, it must be translated into the EU’s 23 official languages before getting approval from EU governments. The deal must be also ratified by the Korean National Assembly.

Mandelson, a de facto deputy for British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, urged Korean companies to invest more in his country.

“Over the last 20 years or so, Britain has welcomed a huge number of Korean businesses - somewhere around 150,” he said.

“Many of them have become part of the British corporate landscape. I hope the next 20 years will bring another 150,” said Mandelson.