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EU sees S. Korea trade pact as model for Asia


EU sees S. Korea trade pact as model for Asia

20 June 2011

SEOUL — The European Union sees its sweeping free trade agreement with South Korea as a model for planned pacts elsewhere in Asia, the EU’s chief negotiator on the deal said Monday.

The FTA, which comes into force on July 1, is the most important so far negotiated by the European bloc, Ignacio Garcia Bercero told a seminar.

It was also the first that the world’s largest economic bloc had negotiated in Asia, "the most dynamic region of the world economy".

Annual EU-South Korea trade is worth round $90 billion and Garcia Bercero said the accord within five years would scrap tariffs on almost 99 percent of this.

The deal "is very much the model of the type of trade agreement that we would very much wish to conclude with other countries in Asia," Garcia Bercero said.

He said the EU started negotiations with India and members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) as the same time as talks began with South Korea.

"We are currently at a very important state of negotiations with India. I hope to be able to successfully conclude them, although this is not yet a given," Garcia Bercero said.

Negotiations with Singapore were "very advanced". There were also talks with Malaysia and discussions with other ASEAN countries were expected to start soon.

"We are very actively engaged in the region," Garcia Bercero said.

South Korea’s chief negotiator, Trade Minister Kim Jong-Hoon, said some viewed free trade negotiations as a zero-sum game.

"But the governments of Korea and the EU concluded that this FTA is a win-win game, and I certainly hope that we can prove that."