Brussels – 19 October 2018. This year marks the 55th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the EU and the Republic of Korea, and today European and South Korean leaders have reaffirmed their strong ties and commitment to strengthen this strategic partnership. Presidents Donald Tusk and Jean-Claude Juncker have met in Brussels with President Jae-in Moon to assess bilateral relations, including the implementation of the EU-Republic of Korea Free Trade Agreement (FTA).
“In 2011, the EU agreed its first Free Trade Agreement with an Asian country. That country was the Republic of Korea. The beneficiaries of this agreement have been our citizens and our businesses, but if our trade relationship is to reach its full potential, we need to ensure that it is being implemented properly.” – Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission
The EU-South Korea FTA has been in place since 2011, and seven years later its success is clear: 99% of tariffs have been eliminated and EU exports to South Korea have increased by almost 60%, making South Korea the EU's 9th largest trade partner worldwide.
With the EU and South Korea moving closer together as strategic partners, the first edition of EU Gateway to Korea was launched in 2008-2014 to help European companies establish long-lasting business collaborations in South Korea, and it has now been followed by a second edition from 2016-2020. Despite the FTA, South Korea continues to be a country where doing business can be challenging. EU Gateway | Business Avenues acts as a bridgehead between the two markets and it organises a total of 20 EU-funded business missions until 2020 open to 1,000 European companies. Dedicated teams in Europe and South Korea help participating companies sound out business opportunities, provide hands-on coaching and pre-arrange meetings with targeted potential partners at exhibition days, which focus on one of the key sectors outlined in the FTA.
The FTA addresses non-tariff barriers to trade in the medical devices sectors, perfectly integrating with the Programme efforts in supporting European companies specialised in advanced Healthcare & Medical Technologies. EU Gateway to Korea will take 50 European medtech companies to Seoul between 11-15 Mar. 2019 (application deadline 9 Nov. 2018).
The FTA also provides the biggest market liberalisation in years for agricultural exports, where European processed food has very good reputation in South Korea. For this reason, Processed Organic Food & Beverage is one of the sectors covered by the Programme, which is organising a dedicated business mission on 4-8 Nov. 2019. Organic Food & Beverage companies from Europe should apply by 14 June 2019.
Indeed, the FTA opens possibilities in a wide range of sectors in which European businesses are strongly competitive. EU Gateway to Korea includes Contemporary European Design, in particular interior design, from lighting to furniture, which has attracted a lot of attention and interest. The next business mission in this sector is scheduled on 27-31 May 2019, and the application deadline is 1 Feb. 2019.
Thanks to the FTA, South Korea would take commitments on the treatment of non-industrial waste waters (sewage services), which is one of the subsectors targeted by EU Gateway | Business Avenues within the Environment & Water Technologies sector. The upcoming opportunity in this sector is the business mission going to Seoul on 23-27 Sep. 2019, whose application deadline comes on 10 May 2019. Finally, the Programme also targets Green Energy Technologies, and for 2019 it has already closed a specific business mission that includes exhibition days and a site visit.
69% of participants to an EU Gateway | Business Avenues mission to South Korea have established new collaborations or expect to do so in the near future, and 42% of them have concluded sales or expect to have some. European companies looking for more info or support on the application process can write to firstname.lastname@example.org.