Worth the waitAn accord for a free trade agreement with the European Union seems imminent. The negotiators from Korea and the EU revealed yesterday that most issues had been resolved.
They also said some issues including tariff returns would be discussed further at a meeting of trade ministers scheduled for April 2 in the United Kingdom.
Difficult issues concerning agricultural products, intellectual property rights and service industries have been successfully resolved in the negotiations, we are told, and the remaining issues should be sorted out soon.
Coincidentally, the G-20 summit meeting will also be held on April 2, and news about the signing of the FTA that day should have a strong influence on how delegates feel about protectionism and free trade.
The EU, which emphasizes the importance of free trade more than the United States, will earn strong support from the deal. The agreement will not only benefit trade between Korea and the EU but the world economy, too.
According to the executive committee of the EU, a free trade agreement with Korea is expected to increase EU production by 4 billion euros ($5.5 billion).
As Korea’s economy is heavily dependent on trade, the country is wary of protectionism, which is why it needs to sign bilateral free trade agreements with as many partners as possible.
Therefore, signing a free trade agreement with the EU is very good news for Korea. The EU is the world’s largest economic bloc and for Korea, its second-largest trade partner.
If free trade agreements with the world’s largest and second-largest economies function well, Korea doesn’t need to fear the spread of protectionism and a reduction in trade.
The Korea-EU trade agreement is expected to have another impact. Korea can use it as a negotiation card with the United States, which wants to renegotiate the Korea-U.S. free trade agreement.
The United States wants to revise parts related to the car industry but Korea can emphasize that the EU accepts those parts as they are.
If the EU, why not the U.S.?
A free trade agreement with the EU will also give momentum to bilateral trade deals between Korea and China, and between Korea and Japan. China and Japan will be highly interested in negotiating with Korea as it has struck deals both with the EU and the United States.
However, no matter how many benefits the deal may bring, Korea must not negotiate in a careless manner. Korea must do its best to ensure that the deal goes through and that we have cause to celebrate on April 2.