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Progress Made In Talks On South Korea-Australia FTA

by Mary Swire, Tax-News.com, Hong Kong

08 December 2009


There was movement on some important matters during a third round of negotiations on the proposed South Korea-Australia free trade agreement (FTA), which were held in Canberra during the week ending December 4.

Lee Taeho, Director-General for FTA Policy from the South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and Jan Adams, head of the South Korea-Australia FTA Negotiation Task Force from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, led the delegations to the talks.

Since the second round of negotiations, South Korea and Australia have continued their negotiations on the possible tariff concessions on goods, particularly on agricultural products and minerals. During this round, they agreed to redouble their future efforts to overcome their remaining differences on those tariff reductions.

The two sides also started a discussion on opening markets for the service and investment sectors on the basis of reservation lists the two sides exchanged on November 11. With regard to the text of the FTA, both sides are seeking to reach a consensus on issues such as goods, services, investment, trade-related rules and dispute settlement.

The fourth round of negotiations are planned to be held in Seoul in March next year. It is said that the bilateral FTA, once it is put into effect, will contribute not only to increasing trade between the two countries but also to enhancing bilateral cooperation in areas like energy and resources.

Australia is currently South Korea’s eighth largest trading partner, with bilateral trade totaling over USD23bn in 2008. Figures show that South Korea imported USD18bn of goods (largely oil, coal and iron ore) from Australia, while exporting USD5bn in electronic products and vehicles.


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