April 2, 2009

EU, South Korea close to trade deal

South Korea and the European Union are close to a trade deal that would knock off tariffs for at least 96 percent of the goods bought and sold between them.

The two sides were scheduled to put the finishing touches on a trade agreement in London, the Yonhap news agency reported. Officials have already agreed to phase out tariffs on 96 percent of EU goods and 99 percent of South Korean goods.

In one of the more sensitive issues previously negotiated, the trade partners agreed to phase out tariffs for vehicles with more than 1.5 liters of engine displacement within three years, while tariffs for cars with smaller engines would be phased out in five years.

In London, South Korean Trade Minister Kim Jong-hoon was to meet with Catherine Ashton of the European Union to iron out differences concerning a provision dealing with the origin of a product's materials Yonhap said.

South Korea supports a provision that would return tariffs to companies that use imported material for their products but Brussels opposes it, Yonhap reported.