Korea, ASEAN Fail on FTA Terms
10 March 2006
SEOUL (Yonhap) South Korea and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) failed to agree on some details in the 10th round of their free trade agreement (FTA) talks this week, the country’s Agriculture Ministry said Friday.
The two sides held a five-day meeting in Jakarta from Monday to finalize a tariff reduction scheme discussed during last December’s summit of the 10-member ASEAN along with South Korea, Japan and China.
According to the ministry, Seoul and the ASEAN countries disagreed on the scope of items subject to a tariff cut.
``Both sides reached an agreement on maintaining the current tariffs on rice and 40 other items...but differed on fruit among other products,’’ said Bae Jong-hwa, the head of the ministry’s international policy bureau.
The official said the trade pact with the countries may be delayed due to some differences on the scope of items subject to the tariff cuts.
The two sides have pushed ahead with a plan to conclude their negotiations on liberalization of trade in goods by April, with the aim of putting an FTA into force in July. In addition, South Korea and ASEAN have pledged to conclude negotiations on liberalization in services and investment by the end of this year.
In the envisaged pact, both sides are obliged to eventually fully liberalize trade for 97 percent of all items traded, with a midterm goal of eliminating 80 percent of tariffs by 2009 and 90 percent by Jan. 1, 2010.
South Korea has FTAs with Chile and Singapore and is seeking similar deals with the United States, ASEAN and several Latin American and other countries.
``The FTA won’t have a great impact on the local farm market since 500 items are not subject to tariff reduction and the customs duties for 40 other items will remain the same,’’ an official at the Agriculture Ministry said.
ASEAN comprises Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.