Korea and the EU on Thursday initialed a free trade agreement. The free trade pact was sealed by Trade Minister Kim Jong-hoon and EU Trade Commissioner Catherine Ashton in Brussels. The agreement will now be translated into the 22 languages of the 27 EU member states, whose leaders will formally sign it later. The Korea-EU FTA will come into effect once it is ratified by the National Assembly and by the EU Council.
That will probably happen late next year. "We aren't sure when the FTA will be ratified by the National Assembly," a ministry official said. "But the goal is to have it come into effect tentatively during the second half of next year."
The EU also needs approval from the European Parliament. But even before the FTA goes into full effect, tariffs will come down, the government said. The EU agreed to eliminate tariffs on 93.3 percent of goods imported from Korea within three years after the accord takes effect, and Korea on 91.8 percent of EU goods.
The EU is the world's largest market with a population of 500 million and Korea's second largest trading partner after China.
The Ministry for Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries pledged to come up with a support for farm households by early next year, assuming that potential damage to them will amount to W2.3 trillion (US$1=W1,155) for 15 years after the FTA takes effect.