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THE INVESTOR
September 23, 2021

EU-KOR FTA stands out as a clear symbol against protectionism: German envoy

  • PUBLISHED :June 16, 2021 - 20:08
  • UPDATED :June 17, 2021 - 14:05
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(From left to right) Woo Ho-je, Senior Vice President of Korean-German Chamber of Commerce and Industry DEinternational, Christoph Heider, President of European Chamber of Commerce in Korea, Edward White, Correspondent of Financial Times,Kwon Tae-shin (front), Vice Chairman of The Federation of Korean Industries,
Arne Kuper (back), Counsellor (Economic Affairs), Deputy Head of Economics Department of German Embassy Seoul, Michael Reiffenstuel, German Ambassador of German Embassy Seoul, Choi Seok-young, Ambassador (ret.), Senior Adviser of Lee & Ko, Dirk Lukat, Chairperson of European Chamber of Commerce in Korea, CEO of Schenker Korea Ltd., Martin Henkelmann, President & CEO of Korean-German Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Peter Winklerm Deputy Head of Mission of German Embassy Seoul, Frank Robaschik, Director/Correspondent Korea of Germany Trade & Invest.(Embassy of Germany in Seoul)

The Korea-EU Free Trade Agreement is a symbol that stands against protectionism, and underlines the EU and Korea’s strong commitment to a rules-based international trade order, German Ambassador to Korea Michael Reiffenstuel said Wednesday, at an event marking the 10th anniversary of the trade agreement.

The anniversary event was collectively held by Korean-German Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the German Embassy in Korea and the European Chamber of Commerce in Korea to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the implementation of the trade pact.

Korea reached the trade deal with the EU in 2010, becoming the first Asian nation to form an FTA with the region.

Since the FTA took effect, Korea-EU trade in goods increased from 60 billion euros ($72.7 billion) to 90 billion euros with foreign direct investments commitments growing similarly.

At the event, participants held a discussion focusing on the updates on the FTA including its necessity, bottlenecks and modernization with Financial Times Correspondent Edward White, as a moderator.

Emphasizing the EU and Korea’s strong commitment to a rules-based international trade order, Reiffenstuel said the Korea-EU FTA stands out as a clear symbol against protectionism.

“However, the anniversary 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,” the German ambassador said.

“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,” he added.

According to Martin Henkelmann, President & CEO of KGCCI, the Korea-EU FTA has been a benchmark 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.”

ECCK Chairperson and Schenker Korea CEO Dirk Lukat said that FTA raised high hopes 10 years ago, and that those hopes have been fulfilled, as the FTA brought custom duties down and led to a certain standardization for technical products and the related certification procedures.

“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 ten years and the way we live and do business has changed,” the Schenker Korea CEO said.

“A static FTA, will over time lose its effectiveness, whereas economic partners and trade among trading partners governed by more progressive FTA will prosper,“ Lukat added.

By Sanjay Kumar (sanjaykumar@heralcorp.com)

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