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Parts and materials technology development
Korea and EU hold 10th Goods Trade Committee 2022-04-08

The Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Energy (MOTIE) held the 10th Goods Trade Committee (GTC) with the EU delegation via teleconference for promoting Korea-EU trade of goods under the FTA framework.

MOTIE's Director General for International Trade Affairs Kim Wan-ki headed the Korean delegation, which comprised officials from various ministries, including the Science and Technology Ministry, Environment Ministry, and the Food and Drug Safety Ministry.

In the meeting, Korea and EU assessed the FTA implementation progress and discussed the recent pandemic, Ukraine situation, as well as global supply chain issues and various challenges facing Korean and EU companies struggling in local markets.

Upon enforcement of the Korea-EU FTA, effective since July 1 in 2011, both sides are operating approximately 15 GTCs under their respective ministerial-level Trade Commissions in order to address FTA implementation issues in various sectors, including automobiles and car parts.

This year marks the 11th anniversary of Korea-EU FTA, and their trade and investment ties are firm as ever in spite of the protracted COVID-19 pandemic, Ukraine situation and global uncertainties. In 2021, even the pandemic could not hamper their historic trade volume. Korea-EU trade grew 26.1 percent year-on-year in 2021, reaching USD 129.5 billion. This is a 55.5 percent increase compared to the same period a decade back.

In this 10th GTC meeting, the two sides discussed supply chain, EU’s single-use plastic ban, foreign subsidies regulation, Korea’s recycling policy, and such programs that are either newly introduced or already being implemented.

With regard to supply chain, Korea expressed its domestic semiconductor industry’s concerns towards the recent closing of a coolant plant in Belgium, a result of tightened PFAS regulations. Korea called for support and understanding from EU, so as to maintain minimal impact on the global supply chain.

As for EU’s single-use plastic directive, Korea pointed out that the regulation (enforced since July 2021) restricts even the use of bioplastics, which is an eco-friendly material, and delivered concerns that the ban prohibits Korea’s cutting-edge bioplastics manufacturing technology from entering the EU market. Only Korea, the U.S., and Japan own patents for the technology to produce marine-biodegradable bioplastics. Mentioning that France, Italy, and other major EU states are also encouraging the use of bioplastics, Korea emphasized that EU’s single-use plastic ban should be reconsidered.

As for EU’s other regulations like the Anti-Coercion Instrument and the Regulation on Foreign Subsidies, Director General Kim asked the legislative progress and stressed the need for sufficient negotiations on EU’s part with core trade and investment partners in accordance with WTO rules.

On EU’s inquiry about Korean cosmetic products quality inspections, he explained the process in conjunction with Korea’s newly changed Separate Waste Disposal Labelling System (enforced since January 1).

Korea-EU FTA looks forward to the coming new decade of bolstered commercial cooperation. The two sides can leverage the FTA as a more expansive economic collaboration platform; not confined to the conventional trade and investment promotion, but across a broader spectrum encompassing supply chain, carbon neutrality, technology, and healthcare.