The UK welcomed the signature of the EU-Korean Free Trade Agreement (FTA) at the EU-Korea Summit in Brussels today.
The landmark deal, worth an extra £500 million a year for UK firms based on current trading patterns alone, means virtually all tariffs between the EU and Korea will be removed from July 2011. This will result in £1.4 billion of savings in duties per year for EU exporters.
Belgian Foreign Minister Steven Vanackere, EU Commissioner Karel De Gucht and Korean Trade Minister Jong-hoon Kim, today signed the agreement after negotiations began in 2007.
The agreement will result in new opportunities for UK companies in Korea, particularly in legal and financial services, pharmaceuticals, advanced engineering and the low carbon industry, including the renewables sector.
Prime Minister David Cameron said:
"We must put trade absolutely at the heart of the relations that the EU is building with the wider world. The EU-South Korea Free Trade Agreement will be good for Europe and good for Britain.
“It will make a great difference not just in terms of encouraging growth and trade with Korea today, but also in laying the ground for further free trade agreements between Europe and other countries, including India, in the future."
Business Secretary Vince Cable said:
“I am very pleased by the signing of the FTA at the EU-Korea Summit today. The value of this deal to both nations is considerable and I hope that businesses from both nations will take advantage of the reduction in trade barriers.
“Korea has the Presidency of the G20 this year and I look forward to our countries working together. We are committed to helping advance global open markets and tackling protectionism, which can be delivered first and foremost through the Doha Development Agenda."
Korean Trade Minister Jong-hoon Kim said:
"The EU-Korea FTA is the most comprehensive and high-quality trade agreement Korea and the EU have ever concluded, which will provide expanded business opportunities for both sides.
“In particular, the EU-Korea FTA is the first FTA the EU has concluded with an Asian country and it will serve as a springboard for British business and industry to advance in the biggest emerging market of the world."
Notes to editors:
- Korea was the UK's 26th largest export market. Two way trades in goods and services totalled £5.6 billion.
- The UK was Korea's 4th largest trading partner within the EU.
- Last year, 16.6% (£1.2 billion) of all inward investment into Korea came from UK sources, making the UK the single largest investor in 2009 (Source: Invest Korea).
- The UK exported £281 million in financial services to South Korea, £144 million in pharmaceuticals and £148 million in whisky.
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