Korea Times | 10-26-2010
EUCCK asked to help FTA passage
By Cathy Rose A. Garcia
Trade Minister Kim Jong-hoon on Tuesday urged European businessmen to lobby lawmakers in their home countries to enable the smooth ratification of the Korea and European Union free trade agreement (FTA).
``There were ups and downs on the way and unexpected resistance from some EU states, but we have overcome such hurdles. Yet the job is not yet done,’’ Kim said, during the European Union Chamber of Commerce in Korea luncheon meeting at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, Seoul.
The Korea-EU FTA was signed last Oct. 6, and it needs to be ratified by the Korean and EU parliaments before it can be implemented on July 1, 2011. It also needs the approval of the 27 individual member states of the EU before it can take full effect.
Kim said he was ``cautiously optimistic’’ of the chances of getting the FTA approved by the Korean parliament, especially since the majority of the Korean public is in favor of the deal.
On Monday, the Korean government submitted the Korea-EU FTA ratification bill to the National Assembly. The EU already submitted the FTA ratification bill to the European Parliament in mid-September.
``However, I have some concerns about the European side, since the approval of individual EU member-states is required... I would like to humbly request your assistance to ensure this process for ratifying the EU-Korea FTA will proceed smoothly in your home countries. We ask you to help EU parliamentary members to gain full understanding of the rules and the benefits of the agreement,’’ Kim said.
As expected, the FTA will further increase trade and investments between Korea and the EU. In 2009, trade between Korea and EU reached $78.8 billion, making it the second-largest trading partner after China.
``With the G20 Seoul Summit only days away, the EU-Korea FTA would send a right signal. This would emphasize the Korean government’s belief that more trade and not the other way is the right solution for the economic problems that the world is experiencing,’’ Kim said.
The deal provides for the elimination or phasing out of tariffs on 96 percent of EU goods and 99 percent of Korean goods within three years.
``The FTA will serve as a bedrock for consolidating Korea and the EU’s partnership in the coming decades. Although the FTA is an economic deal, I hope this will play a key role in bringing Koreans much closer to Europeans. With more goods and services exchanging between Korea and Europe, I’m sure there will be more human contact and in turn will deepen friendships,’’ Kim said.