THE FTA Promotion & Policy Adjustment Authority (FTA PPAA) under the Ministry of Strategy and Finance has been serving its role as the engine in Korea’s free trade agreements with several countries. The authority was launched after the signing of the Korea-US (Korus) FTA, after realization that strategic planning and measures are key factors in achieving successful FTAs. It acts as channel, providing information and taking opinions from and to those involved with FTAs either directly or indirectly. The authority also acts as a bridge, connecting citizens, FTA related organizations, the National Assembly and the press in order to educate them and promote FTA related policies and issues. The goal is to seek FTAs that are not only beneficial to everyone but also agreed to by everyone.
Currently, there are four FTAs; Korea- Chile, Korea-Singapore, Korea-EFTA, and Korea-ASEAN FTAs in effect, while the KORUS FTA, Korea-EU FTA, and Korea- India CEPA agreements are finalized and waiting for either ratification or to be put into effect. FTAs with Canada, GCC, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, Peru and Columbia are currently in negotiations, but still have long ways to go. In addition, FTAs with eight countries are either being preparing for talks or are conducting joint researches to enter negotiations.
The FTA Promotion & Policy Adjustment Authority has had 17 conferences since May 2007 in an attempt to share information and gather opinions related to FTAs. The authority often utilizes mass media, the Internet, seminars and information sessions to transmit necessary information to the public in a more friendly way. The authority also consistently studies and reviews related laws and legislations to utilize FTAs for Korea’s benefit, and sometimes even attempts to revise the systems and the laws if necessary.
The Korea-EU FTA, which was finalized in October of this year, is expected to be signed during the first quarter of next year, and finally come into effect during the latter part of 2010. The EU, comprising of 27 countries, is perhaps the biggest economic region and trade partner for Korea and can be a foothold for Korea’s economic growth in the global economy. With the removal or reduction of tariffs, trade volume is expected to be increased and foreign investment in Korea expanded. Korea’s economic system is expected to advance by dealing and working with EU countries which will eventually lead to a growth in the GDP. In regards to manufacturing industries, the EU’s automobiles, consumer electronics and textiles markets are as big as those of the U.S., and therefore predicted to bring Korea good profits.
The Ministry of Strategy and Finance, which the FTA PPAA belongs to, hosts regular seminars and information sessions to promote understanding of issues of concern. In mid November, the ministry hosted the “Interministerial meeting on the Korea-EU FTA and the Korea-India CEPA” targeting 250 Korean export companies in collaboration with the Ministry of Knowledge Economy and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. The Korea-India CEPA, which was ratified by the National Assembly in early November and will go into effect on the first day of 2010, will eliminate or reduce tariffs on over 4,000 Korea goods. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade presented detailed negotiation results by industry categories and the Ministry of Strategy and Finance explained strategic plans and policies for those industries expected to be damaged by the Korea-India CEPA. In addition, the Ministry of Knowledge Economy explained about FTA utilizing strategies that Korean export companies can adopt as well as detailed plans regarding the Korean government’s FTA support policies.