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Europe ratifies free trade deal with S. Korea

17Agence France Presse | 17 Feb 2011

Europe ratifies free trade deal with S. Korea

STRASBOURG — Europe gave its final approval on Thursday to a major free trade deal with South Korea, eliminating most tariffs in a pact hailed as a model for future agreements with other Asian nations.

The deal will come into force on July 1 after the European Parliament voted 465-128 for it after securing safeguards to protect Europe’s auto industry from tough South Korean rules on fuel efficiency and CO2 emissions.

"The EU-Korea FTA will not only provide important benefits for European exporters to the Korean market but also be a clear signal of our determination to pursue new opportunities in key Asian economies," said EU trade commissioner Karel De Gucht.

Doubling European Union trade with South Korea, the agreement will eliminate 98 percent of import duties and other trade barriers in manufactured goods, agricultural products and services within the next five years.

Parliament secured measures that will allow the EU to suspend reductions in customs duties or restore them if the lower rates invite an "excessive" rise in imports of goods such as cars, electronics and textiles from South Korea.

South Korea and the EU signed the free trade agreement last October.

The deal needed the European Parliament’s ratification to come into force, the first time the elected assembly has used this new power which it gained with the Lisbon Treaty.

 source: AFP