Press Release
Hybrid Event (On & Offline Event)

Modernizing the EU-Korea FTA


(Seoul, June 16, 2021) The Korean-German Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KGCCI), the German Embassy in Korea and the European Chamber of Commerce in Korea (ECCK) successfully held a hybrid event to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the implementation of the EU-Korea Free Trade Agreement (EU-KOR FTA).

In 2010, Korea and the European Union (EU) struck an exemplary trade deal, which was the first time between the EU and an Asian country. The FTA was implemented in the following year and since then it has proven to be very successful. For both partners it has fostered a high level of market liberalization and served as a platform for bilateral trade and investment. Trade in goods between the EU and Korea has increased from 60 billion EUR to 90 billion EUR, with foreign direct investments (FDIs) commitments growing similarly.

The event consisted of two parts: key-note speeches and panel discussions. The discussions focused on the updates on EU-KOR FTA including its necessity, bottlenecks and modernization with Edward White, Correspondent of Financial Times as a moderator.

H. E Michael Reiffenstuel said in his greeting, “The EU-KOR FTA stands out as a clear symbol against protectionism. It underlines both the EU and Korea’s strong commitment to a rules-based international trade order. Therefore, the 10th anniversary is a reason to celebrate. But it is also an excellent opportunity to reflect on our trade relations with a future oriented look: Over the past years, new trade-related areas have evolved and will continue to grow as we are steadily overcoming the Covid-pandemic. Areas such as digitalization, digital trade and e-commerce prosper. Many companies in Europe and Korea have voiced their strong support for updating the FTA in relevant fields. We support companies in this endeavor. We are convinced that a modernized FTA would be in the high interest of all parties.”

Dr. Martin Henkelmann, President & CEO of KGCCI said, “The EU-Korea FTA has been a bench mark for other FTAs and a strong signal of two economic global key players for enhancing the unrestricted exchange of goods. 10 years later, it is the right time to take stock: the global economic environment has changed and the needs of the businesses in Korea and the EU have evolved. A modernized EU-Korea FTA would – once again – stand out as a forceful signal for rule based global trade which is the foundation for the success of Korean and European companies.”  

Mr. Dirk Lukat, ECCK Chairperson and Schenker Korea CEO said, “10 years ago the hopes for the FTA were high and I can clearly state that those hopes have not been disappointed. The FTA brought custom duties down and led to a certain standardization for technical products and the related certification procedures. Thus, what we observe and can see nowadays here in Korea – as a normal consumer – is a broader product variety visible, for examples in wine and beer in supermarkets and also with cars driving on the Korean roads. The same is true for Korean televisions or Korean cars in Europe. The world has changed in the last 10 years and the way we live and do business has changed. A static FTA, will over time lose its effectiveness, whereas economic partners and trade among trading partners governed by more progressive FTA will prosper. Thus, it is my believe that a modernized EU-KOR FTA is needed. “ 

During a panel discussion, Mr. Seokyoung Choi, Ambassador (ret.), Senior Adviser of Lee & Ko said “Thanks to the FTA, the EU has become Korea’s largest foreign investor and the 3rd largest trading partner. The score card of its implementation is overall satisfactory as it realized increased two-way trade and investment flows. It is the testimony of healthy trade relations that both sides have been closely working together on numerous bilateral trade agenda such as automobiles, sustainable development, labor issues and rules on steel safeguards, SPS and GIs among others. Both sides should also expand the scope of cooperation beyond the areas of trade and investment to ensure the level playing fields.”