Tuesday

17th Oct 2017

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.

Analysis

Juncker's euro-push could risk unity, warns eastern flank

The EU Commission chief hopes that as Emmanuel Macron pushes for euro area countries to integrate further creating a multi-speed Europe, central European members will be more inclined to join the single currency. Are they?

News in Brief

  1. Spanish Court declares Catalan referendum law void
  2. EU to keep 'Dieselgate' letter secret
  3. No deal yet on Mediterranean alliance for EU agencies
  4. EU Commission condemns Maltese journalist's murder
  5. Poland denies wrongdoing over forest logging
  6. Risk to asylum kids in EU increasing, says charity
  7. Schroeder warns of Turkey and Russia drifting towards China
  8. EU parliament wants equal pay for posted workers

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EU2017EENorth Korea Leaves Europe No Choice, Says Estonian Foreign Minister Sven Mikser
  2. Mission of China to the EUZhang Ming Appointed New Ambassador of the Mission of China to the EU
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsEU Should Seek Concrete Commitments From Azerbaijan at Human Rights Dialogue
  4. European Jewish CongressEJC Calls for New Austrian Government to Exclude Extremist Freedom Party
  5. CES - Silicones EuropeIn Healthcare, Silicones Are the Frontrunner. And That's a Good Thing!
  6. EU2017EEEuropean Space Week 2017 in Tallinn from November 3-9. Register Now!
  7. European Entrepreneurs CEA-PMEMobiliseSME Exchange Programme Open Doors for 400 Companies Across Europe
  8. CECEE-Privacy Regulation – Hands off M2M Communication!
  9. ILGA-EuropeHealth4LGBTI: Reducing Health Inequalities Experienced by LGBTI People
  10. EU2017EEEHealth: A Tool for More Equal Health
  11. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Tourism a Key Driver for Job Creation and Enhanced Competitiveness
  12. CECENon-Harmonised Homologation of Mobile Machinery Costs € 90 Million per Year

Latest News

  1. EU rejects UK claim it's slowing Brexit talks
  2. Nepal troops arrive in Libya to guard UN refugee agency
  3. Is Banking Authority HQ the Brexit 'booby prize'?
  4. EU-Russia trade bouncing back - despite sanctions
  5. No sign of Brexit speed-up after May-Juncker dinner
  6. EU defence strategy 'outsourced' to arms industry
  7. EU privacy rules tilt to industry, NGO says
  8. Malta in shock after car bomb kills crusading journalist