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Korea, EU agree on fair, equal antitrust policy

Antitrust authorities of Korea and the European Union agreed Friday to ensure equal treatment of foreign companies in dealing with international cartel cases, Seoul officials said.

The agreement was reached during a meeting in Seoul between Kim Dong-soo, head of South Korea’s Fair Trade Commission, and Joaquin Almunia, vice president of the European Commission, according to the FTC officials.
Fair Trade Commission chief Kim Dong-soo (left) poses with Joaquin Almunia, vice president of the European Commission, after holding a policy meeting in Seoul on Friday. (Yonhap News)
Fair Trade Commission chief Kim Dong-soo (left) poses with Joaquin Almunia, vice president of the European Commission, after holding a policy meeting in Seoul on Friday. (Yonhap News)

Almunia, who is responsible for competition polices, is in Seoul to have talks with South Korean policymakers for fair trade between the two regions.

His visit comes after South Korea’s free trade agreement with the European Union went into effect this month. In the agreement, both sides promised to cooperate in the competition polices if needed.

During the meeting, the two shared the need for global cooperation in dealing with cross-border business consolidation and agreed to actively hold working-level consultations down the road in the area, the officials said.

They also exchanged views on how to effectively protect intellectual property rights and enforce anti-competition laws in markets amid blurring lines between industries due to ongoing technological convergence, according to the officials.

The meeting drew attention here as South Korean companies are facing a tough crackdown on anti-competition activity in the European market. Last year, Korean memory-chip makers and display manufacturers including Samsung Electronics Co. were slapped with fines of more than 600 billion won ($567.1 million) for fixing prices.

“The meeting served as a chance to deepen understanding of competition laws and related polices of both sides, paving the way for a more effective response in the future to cross-border business consolidation and international cartel cases,” an FTC official said.

Meanwhile, Almunia met with Korea’s Finance Minister Bahk Jae-wan later in the day to exchange views on the deepening sovereign debt problem in some European countries, according to the ministry.

They discussed how to increase cooperation in trade, culture, education, investment and other areas between Korea and the European Union, especially after the recently implemented free trade agreement, sources said. 

(Yonhap News)
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