South Korea and the European Union agreed Wednesday to closely cooperate in economic policies amid uncertainties over the European debt crisis, Seoul’s Trade Ministry said.
Both sides will also utilize the so-called Trade Committee as a consultation body for bilateral cooperation, according to the ministry.
The results came after South Korean Trade Minister Kim Jong-hoon and his EU counterpart Karel De Gucht held their first round of the Trade Committee meeting in Seoul earlier in the day.
Korean Trade Minister Kim Jong-hoon (left) shakes hands with his EU counterpart Karel De Gucht during the first round of the Trade Committee meeting in Seoul on Wednesday. (Park Hae-mook/The Korea Herald)
The committee, co-chaired by the trade chiefs from both sides, is assigned to supervise and facilitate the implementation and application of the free trade accord that took effect in July this year, and consider ways to further enhance trade relations between the two sides.
Under the deal, Seoul and Brussels will eliminate or phase out tariffs on 96 percent of EU goods and 99 percent of South Korean goods within three years after the accord takes effect. They have also agreed to abolish tariffs on most industrial goods within five years of the deal taking effect.
Overall, the deal is expected to boost bilateral trade between South Korea and the EU by as much as 20 percent in the long term, according to earlier estimates by the state-run Korea Institute for International Economic Policy.
The KIEP said the free trade accord with the world’s largest economic bloc will help boost South Korea’s exports by $11 billion and its economic growth by 5.6 percent while creating up to 253,000 jobs over the long haul.