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S Korea-EU FTA imminent

Xinhua | 2009-07-08

Media: S Korea-EU FTA imminent

SEOUL, July 8 (Xinhua) — The South Korea-European Union (EU) free trade agreement (FTA) is at the final stage of negotiations as South Korean president is on his official trip to Europe, South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency reported Wednesday.

The South Korean government said it has given the final proposal to the European Commission, the executive body of the EU, over thorny issues such as the duty drawback scheme, which the committee is now on discussion, the agency said.

"We are in final consultations with the EU for the conclusion of negotiations on the Korea-EU FTA," South Korean presidential spokeswoman Kim Eun-hye told reporters.

"As the European Commission wraps up its internal negotiations to tap their final stance on the FTA, an announcement of the pact will soon be made," the official added.

The South Korean government is pushing for an oral announcement of the settlement on July 13th as South Korean President Lee Myung-bak holds a summit with his Swedish counterpart Fredrik Reinfeldt, Yonhap said.

"We have reached a substantial agreement as we have gone through a long period of negotiation processes," President Lee said during an interview with European media, adding that he expects to sign the pact in July or August.

South Korea and the European Union have held eight rounds of negotiations for the free trade pact, the last of which was held in March.

Although they have reached a "provisional" agreement in March, an official declaration was held back amid opposition from several EU member nations that are concerned about possible damage to their economies.

"It is true that Poland, Italy and Hungary are not strongly supporting the Korea-EU FTA," a South Korean official was quoted as saying.

Meanwhile, the EU stood as South Korea’s second-largest trading partner after China last year, with two-way trade reaching over 90billion U.S. dollars.

If the agreement is finalized, South Korea’s exports are expected to increase by 11 billion U.S. dollars and gross domestic product by 3.08 percent, according to a forecast by the Korea Institute for International Economic Policy.

 source: Xinhua