The Council adopted on 1 October 2015 a decision concluding the EU's free trade agreement with South Korea.
The agreement, signed in October 2010, provides for the progressive liberalisation of trade in goods and services. It includes rules on trade-related issues such as competition and state aid, intellectual property and public procurement.
It is the first of a generation of free trade accords, and is the EU's first trade deal with an Asian country.
Conclusion of the agreement follows its ratification by all of the EU member states. Most of the accord has been provisionally applied since 1 July 2011.
South Korea is the EU's tenth-largest partner for exports and the EU is South Korea's fourth-largest partner for exports.
The majority of import duties were removed in July 2011, as the two parties committed to eliminate 98.7% of duties in trade value within five years. On 1 July 2016, import duties will be eliminated on all products except a limited number of agricultural products.
The agreement creates opportunities for market access in services and investments. It addresses non-tariff obstacles to trade, with specific provisions on electronics, motor vehicles and vehicle parts, pharmaceuticals, medical devices and chemicals. Trade remedies, technical barriers to trade and sanitary and phytosanitary measures, customs and trade facilitation are also covered.
The agreement incorporates protocols concerning rules of origin and administrative assistance on customs matters, as well as on cultural cooperation. Provisions on trade and sustainable development are also included, covering both social and environmental issues.
A trade committee oversees implementation of the agreement, as well as trade relations more generally. A dispute settlement mechanism is also provided for. The trade committee reports to a joint committee established under an EU-South Korea framework agreement, to which the free trade agreement is linked.
The decision was taken without discussion at a meeting of the Competitiveness Council.