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South Korea, Australia Nearer to FTA Deal

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

19 November 2013


On the first stage of his visits to South Korea, Japan and China to promote the finalization of bilateral free trade agreements (FTAs) with those countries, Australia's Trade Minister Andrew Robb appears to have made progress in talks with South Korean Trade Minister Yoon Sang-jick.

It was back in 2009 that Australia and South Korea agreed to launch bilateral FTA negotiations, but the talks stalled a year later. Australia is looking to place its exporters on an equal footing with their American and European competitors, following the FTAs concluded by South Korea with the US and EU.

The major benefits to Australia of an FTA are being seen to be in the agricultural and services sectors, while it would also eliminate its remaining tariffs on auto imports from South Korea.

In addition, it was expected that South Korea would liberalize its foreign investment requirements, but one of the reasons why the negotiations broke down in 2010 was over the terms of the investor-state dispute (ISD) settlement system to be included in an agreement, an issue that had also been contentious for South Korea within its FTA with the US.

Following their meeting, both Robb and Yoon made positive comments, with the former disclosing that he would like an agreement concluded even before the one-year target that has been recently indicated by the Australian Government.

TAGS: tax | investment | business | free trade agreement (FTA) | law | tariffs | Australia | agreements | Korea, South | import duty | trade | services | business investment | Europe

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