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.
The last ministerial level Trade Committee took place in Brussel on 16 December 2016 between TRADE Commissioner Malmström and MOTIE Minister Joo. Next meeting is scheduled for September 2017.
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 €1,377 billion, it was ranked 11th place in the world in 2017. 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 2016 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 8 % from 2014 to 2015 (latest data available) to reach €49.7 billion, accounting for over 20 % of the FDI stock in the Republic of Korea. Furthermore, Korean investments in the EU experienced growth of 19 % in the same period, amounting to a total stock of €20.9 billion.
Cooperation on competition policy
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. From 2016 to 2020, the EU Gateway to Korea Programme aims at bringing up to 1000 European companies to Korea over 20 missions to explore cooperation opportunities with Korean companies in specific sectors: Green Energy Technologies, Environment and Water Technologies, Construction and Building Technologies, Contemporary European Design, Healthcare & Medical Technologies, Organic Food & Beverages.
EU-Korea FTA Evaluation
The FTA evaluation study aims at providing an in-depth analysis of the efficiency and effectiveness of the FTA on EU business operators and consumers in Korea, by directly targeting EU businesses active in Korea as well as local stakeholders.