BRUSSELS (AFP) ― A key European parliament committee endorsed Monday a major free trade deal with Korea after securing safeguards to protect Europe’s auto makers.
The International Trade Committee voted overwhelmingly, 21-4, to send the deal, hailed as the most ambitious free trade pact ever negotiated by the European Union, to the full parliament for a final vote.
Doubling EU trade with Korea, the deal will eliminate 98 percent of import duties and other trade barriers in manufactured goods, agricultural products and services within the next five years.
The full EU parliament is expected to vote on the agreement next week.
The parliament’s trade committee said it secured guarantees that Europe’s auto industry would not be hurt by Korean legislation requiring tougher rules on fuel efficiency and CO2 emissions for cars.
Euro MPs had already secured measures that will allow the EU to suspend reductions in customs duties or restore them if the lower rates invite an “excessive” rise in imports from Korea.
The deal provides for the removal of an eight percent tariff on EU cars exported to Korea, which would save 2,000 euros ($2,700) in duties for every car worth 25,000 euros exported to the Asian country, the committee said.
The deal must be ratified by the EU and Korean parliaments to come into force in July.