Korea Signs FTA with Australia

Korea on Thursday signed a free trade agreement with Australia. It is Korea's 11th, and first of the current Park Geun-hye administration.

After ratification at the National Assembly, the FTA is expected to take effect in early 2015.

The two countries agreed to lift duties on Korea's main exports such as compact and mid-sized cars, home appliances and general machinery as soon as the FTA goes into effect. Currently they are subject to a five-percent tariff.

But agricultural and fishery products like rice, powdered milk and fruit were excluded because they are seen as vulnerable areas.

Trade Minister Yoon Sang-jick (left) shakes hands with his Australian counterpart Andrew Robb at a trade meeting in Bali, Indonesia on Wednesday. Trade Minister Yoon Sang-jick (left) shakes hands with his Australian counterpart Andrew Robb at a trade meeting in Bali, Indonesia on Wednesday.

The tariff on 509 agricultural or fishery products including beef will be gradually lowered or abolished over a period of more than a decade. If the FTA becomes effective in 2015 as planned, duties on beef will be completely abolished by 2030.

The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy on Thursday said it agreed to lift the tariff on 92.4 percent of imports from Australia within eight years. Australia will abolish duties on almost all items it imports from Korea over five years.

The two countries also agreed to adopt an investor-state dispute settlement provision similar to the one in the Korea-U.S. FTA.

englishnews@chosun.com / Dec. 06, 2013 12:49 KST