The EU-Republic of Korea Free Trade Agreement
The Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the EU and the Republic of Korea has been applied since July 2011 and formally entered into force in 2015. It is the EU's first trade deal with an Asian country.
This new generation of agreements goes further than previous FTAs in moving beyond tariff liberalisation by tackling other trade barriers. The Agreement eliminates tariffs for industrial and agricultural goods in a progressive, step-by-step approach. Only a limited number of agricultural products are excluded from tariff elimination.
The implementation phase of the FTA is now ongoing to ensure that the mechanisms used are efficient and effective in providing market access and investment opportunities for EU businesses in the Republic of Korea and Korean businesses in the EU.
The FTA is put into practice through an annual Trade Committee, seven Specialised Committees, seven Working Groups and an Intellectual Property Dialogue.
For practical information concerning application of the FTA, please consult the Market Access Data Base.
Stakeholders can send enquiries concerning implementation of the EU-South Korea FTA via an online enquiry form.
EU-Republic of Korea Trade Relations
The Republic of Korea is nowadays one of the most dynamic economies in the world. With a GDP of over €1 234 billion, it was ranked 11th place in the world in 2015. In view of the Republic of Korea's significance, it became one of the 10 strategic partners of the EU.
From the commercial standpoint, the Republic of Korea is a very important partner for the EU. In 2015 it was the EU's 8th largest supplier and the 9th largest export market. For the Republic of Korea, the EU has consolidated its position as the country's 2nd largest supplier and the 3rd largest export market.
Bilateral trade remains concentrated on high added-value and technology-intensive sectors: machinery and transport equipment, telecommunication equipment, chemicals, etc. In addition, in the fast-growing service sector, bilateral EU-Republic of Korea trade has increased dramatically over recent years.
The EU is the largest investor in the country. The EU Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) stock in the Republic of Korea increased 35 % from 2013 to 2014 (latest data available) to reach €43.7 billion, accounting for over 20 % of the FDI stock in the Republic of Korea. Furthermore, Korean investments in the EU experienced growth of 36 % in 2014 amounting to a total stock of €20.2 billion.
Cooperation on competition policy and custom issues
The EU and the Republic of Korea have a cooperation agreement concerning the application of their competition laws to anti-competitive activities. The agreement was signed in 2009 and the EU and Korean competition authorities are cooperating regularly on investigations of cases of international cartels or other anti-competitive practices affecting our economies.
The EU Partnership Instrument
The EU Partnership Instrument (PI) for cooperation with countries that are not members of the EU aims to advance and promote the EU and mutual interests.
Since 2014, a number of PI projects in Korea have emerged as a direct result of the collaboration between the EU Delegation to the Republic of Korea and EU countries with Korean public authorities, civil society organisations, business promotion agencies, academia and more.
Among the key ongoing PI projects are:
The EU Gateway Programme
EU Gateway to Korea is an initiative funded by the EU that helps companies from the 28 EU countries to establish long-lasting business partnerships in Korea.
Assessment of FTA implementation and its effectiveness among EU business operators and consumers in Korea
The objective of this project is to provide an interim assessment of the implementation of the EU-Korea FTA, directly targeting EU businesses active in Korea as well as local stakeholders, in view of achieving the overarching policy goals of a comprehensive and high-quality FTA.