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Korea’s third FTA effective next month

Korea Times

Korea’s Third FTA Effective Next Month

By Kim Yon-se, Staff Reporter

28 August 2006

South Korea’s free trade agreement (FTA) with four non-EU members will go into effect next month.

The pact is called the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), tying Korea to Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland.

The pact is Korea’s third trade agreement, following those with Chile and Singapore. Both sides reached a conclusion in talks held in July 2005.

As with the case of the Korea-Singapore FTA, both sides have decided to include products from the Kaesong Industrial Complex in North Korea, being operated by South Korea, as FTA items.

The pact is a comprehensive one covering goods, services, investment, government purchasing, intellectual property rights, broadcasting services and competition involving ant-trust law.

As to the agreement on trading goods, the EFTA will remove tariffs on imported Korean industrial and fishery goods immediately, while Korea will impose zero tariffs on 99.1 percent of EFTA imports on a step-by-step basis, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

The four nations combined are Korea’s 32nd largest trade partner, with overall trade between the two sides totaling $2.9 billion in 2005 _ $1.1 billion for Korea’s exports and $1.8 billion for imports.

In July, South Korea signed an FTA with nine of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). The agreement, with the inclusion of some products from Kaesong, is expected to take effect on Jan. 1, 2007.