Friday

27th Apr 2018

EU and Korea fail to conclude free trade deal

  • European carmakers are worried a free trade deal with South Korea would negatively impact on their sales (Photo: EUobserver)

Leaders from the European Union and South Korea called for a quick conclusion to the ongoing discussions over a free trade agreement after a summit between the two sides in Seoul on Saturday (23 May) failed to produce a breakthrough.

A tentative deal was reached in March but has stalled since then as certain issues have become politicised, in particular the question of refunding import duties under certain conditions.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

European carmakers are particularly concerned that the refunds would give South Korean manufacturers an unfair advantage.

The EU does not allow the refunds, known as duty drawbacks, with its other bilateral free trade partners, Mexico and Chile.

European commission president Jose Manuel Barroso and Czech president Vaclav Klaus attended the meeting with South Korea's president Lee Myung-Bak. EU trade commissioner Catherine Ashton and external relations commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner were also present.

The Czech Republic currently holds the EU's six-month rotating presidency, due to expire at the end of June.

Previous meetings, including on the sidelines of the G20 leaders' summit in London on 2 April, also failed to break the deadlock.

The bilateral agreement is estimated to be worth €71.4 billion, with both sides now saying they hope it to be concluded before the end of this year.

"There are some pending issues to be resolved. It is not going to be easy to resolve all of these but I am confident that we will be able to come to a conclusion as soon as possible in the near future," President Lee said after the meeting.

"The most important thing is that we move towards a more practical cooperation than in the past," said Klaus, admitting that the deal would not be signed under the Czech presidency.

The two sides also urged North Korea to return to talks on nuclear disarmament after the communist regime broke off discussions following a rocket launch in April that caused the United Nations to increase sanctions.

However the summit's announcements were overshadowed by the death of former South Korean president Roh Moo-Hyun, who apparently committed suicide having recently become embroiled in a corruption scandal.

Mr Roh, who left office in February 2008, was known for his attempts to draw the North Korean regime further into the political fold and was seen as a clean politician in a corrupt system.

However his reputation took a knock last month when prosecutors summoned him to answer charges that his family received $6 million (€4.27m) from a rich businessman while he was in office.

Macron and Merkel pledge euro reform

France and Germany have pledged to forge a joint position on euro reform by June, despite German reluctance on deeper monetary union.

EU watchdogs to protect farmers

The European Commission is due to unveil a legislative proposal that will should help farmers get paid on time for their products.

EU raids Murdoch firm in sport 'cartel' probe

EU commission launched dawn raids in several member states in anti-trust probe into sports rights media firms. One of those hit, in London, was owned by media tycoon Rupert Murdoch.

Macron and Merkel pledge euro reform

France and Germany have pledged to forge a joint position on euro reform by June, despite German reluctance on deeper monetary union.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressCalls on Brussels University to Revoke Decision to Honour Ken Loach
  2. Sustainable Energy Week 2018"Lead the Clean Energy Transition"- Register and Join Us in Brussels from 5 to 7 May
  3. EU Green Week 2018Green Cities for a Greener Future. Join the Debate in Brussels from 22 to 24 May
  4. Nordic Council of Ministers12 Recommendations for Nordic Leadership on Climate and Environment
  5. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOxford Professor Calls for an End to the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  6. ACCAPeople Who Speak-Up Should Feel Safe to Do So
  7. Mission of China to the EUProgress on China-EU Cooperation
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersWorld's Energy Ministers to Meet in Oresund in May to Discuss Green Energy
  9. ILGA EuropeParabéns! Portugal Votes to Respect the Rights of Trans and Intersex People
  10. Mission of China to the EUJobs, Energy, Steel: Government Work Report Sets China's Targets
  11. Martens CentreJoin Us at NET@WORK2018 Featuring Debates on Migration, Foreign Policy, Populism & Disinformation
  12. European Jewish CongressKantor Center Annual Report on Antisemitism Worldwide - The Year the Mask Came Off

Latest News

  1. EU tells platforms to sort fake news by October or face new law
  2. Civil society chief: social media can't replace engagement
  3. The reality behind the €7 'Brexit bombshell visa'
  4. Commission wants bigger post-Brexit budget
  5. Whistleblowers could be enforcers of rule of law in Europe
  6. EU shelves Macron idea for 'European Darpa'
  7. Don't play EU 'games' with military HQs
  8. EU had a plan for Jordan - now it's time to make it work