JoongAng Daily, Korea
FTA with EU to be completed soon
19 August 2010
By Jung Seung-hyun
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade signaled yesterday that the free trade agreement between Korea and the European Union could be signed soon.
The Korean government finished approving the terms of the agreement on Monday during a cabinet meeting, but President Lee Myung-bak must still give his endorsement.
“The EU’s Foreign Affairs Council will be held on Sept. 10 and the Korea-EU FTA will be discussed then, with a signing date likely to be decided,” said Ahn Ho-young, the deputy minister for trade at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The Korea-EU FTA would still need to be ratified by the European Parliament and the 27 member countries.
European automakers have raised concerns that the terms of the agreement would benefit their Korean competitors in selling vehicles in Europe, while they still face obstacles in making sales in Korea.
Korean officials say the agreement could be signed in mid-September, with ratification being completed by the end of the year.
Negotiations on the Korea-EU FTA began in May 2007 and a provisional agreement was signed in October 2009.
“There is little difference between the provisional agreement that was signed and the final version, with 99 percent of the agreement terms slated to take effect immediate effect,” said a government official.
The official added: “Only a few clauses that have been submitted to the European Parliament will need to be approved for ratification.”