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Korea’s Economic Relations with the EU and the Korea-EU FTA
Author: Kang Yoo-duk
Region: Asia
Location: Korea, South
Published March 4, 2016
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Since the late 1990s, Korea has sought a FTA with its trade partners, while the EU has been pivoting to Asia since the mid-2000s in search of a FTA partner. The Korea-EU FTA was important for both sides: Korea had been recording the most important trade surplus with the EU; and from the EU’s point of view, the trade deal with Korea was its first FTA attempt with an Asian partner. Despite optimistic expectations, Korea’s exports to the EU decreased since the Korea-EU FTA was implemented. Reasons for this unusual change in trade include the economic recession in Europe, Korea’s concentrated export structure, relocation of Korean firms’ production base abroad, and an increase in imports of certain products such as crude oil. Classic statistics on exports and imports will lose their role in assessing the outcomes of FTAs, and the strategy of governments and firms in the post-FTA era must change.

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