Saturday

3rd Dec 2016

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.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

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.

Analysis

Doubts hang over EU investment plan's future

Questions of value for money and a lack of transparency complicate adding almost €200 billion more and extending the Juncker investment plan to 2020.

News in Brief

  1. Talks on wholesale roaming rules to start
  2. Lead MEP Dieselgate committee: Italy and Slovakia will cooperate
  3. Transparency NGO sues EU commission on Turkey deal
  4. Pro-EU liberal wins UK by-election
  5. Finnish support for Nato drops, Russia-scepticism grows
  6. Cyprus talks to resume in January
  7. Documents from German NSA inquiry released
  8. Transport commissioner 'not aware' of legal action on emissions

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Gaming & Betting AssociationContinues to Grow its Membership and Welcomes its Newest Member Association
  2. ACCASupports the Women of Europe Awards, Celebrating the Women who are Building Europe
  3. European Heart NetworkWhat About our Kids? Protect Children From Unhealthy Food and Drink Marketing
  4. ECR GroupRestoring Trust and Confidence in the European Parliament
  5. UNICEFChild Rights Agencies Call on EU to put Refugee and Migrant Children First
  6. MIRAIA New Vision on Clean Tech: Balancing Energy Efficiency, Climate Change and Costs
  7. World VisionChildren Cannot Wait! 7 Priority Actions to Protect all Refugee and Migrant Children
  8. ANCI LazioRegio-Mob Project Delivers Analysis of Trasport and Mobility in Rome
  9. SDG Watch EuropeCivil Society Disappointed by the Commission's Plans for Sustainable Development Goals
  10. PLATO15 Fully-Funded PhD Positions Open – The Post-Crisis Legitimacy of the EU (PLATO)
  11. Access NowTell the EU Council: Protect our Rights to Privacy and Security
  12. ACCAThe Future of Audit Means Adaption to Today’s Global and Digital World