Update #1- First Negotiating Round - 3 June 2009
The first round of FTA negotiations between Australia and Korea was held in Melbourne and Canberra from 18-22 May 2009.
The Hon Simon Crean MP, Australian Minister for Trade, and his Korean counterpart, H.E. Mr Kim Jong-hoon, opened the round during bilateral trade talks in Melbourne on 18 May. This meeting provided an opportunity for an exchange on each side’s priorities, sensitivities and goals for the FTA, and reaffirmed each sides’ strong political commitment to a high-quality, comprehensive and commercially-meaningful agreement. Mr Crean’s press release on the commencement of talks can be found at the following weblink:
- Media release: Free Trade Negotiations with South Korea Underway, Minister for Trade, Simon Crean, 18 May 2009
Following that opening session, officials conducted four days of negotiations in Canberra. The Korean delegation, of about 65 officials in total, was led by Director General Choi Kyung-lim, from the Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MOFAT). A similarly-sized Australia delegation was led by Jan Adams, Head, Korea FTA Task Force, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).
Overall, discussions were positive. Each side was constructive in its approach, and all major topic areas were canvassed.
On market access for goods, we said that Australia was seeking to negotiate a comprehensive FTA that secured real commercial benefits for Australian industry. Korea said that it also wanted to conclude a high quality agreement, but stressed that its sensitivities on market access for agricultural products would need to be taken into account. Australia and Korea agreed to exchange initial market access offers (i.e. lists of possible tariff concessions) in the lead-up to the second round.
The two sides had constructive exchanges on goods-related chapters. Although the approaches being taken by both sides are familiar in some areas, there are also some important differences which will require further discussion.
Korea is seeking to include chapters that would provide for enhanced cooperation in the agricultural and resources sectors. We have told Korea that we will need time to consider Korea’s proposals in these areas.
Productive discussions also were held on various services and investment topics, although more detailed discussions will be required in subsequent rounds. In addition to further discussions on draft texts at upcoming rounds, the two sides have agreed that we will aim to exchange initial services and investment market access offers between the second and third rounds of negotiations.
Elsewhere, the two sides also had useful exchanges on topics including intellectual property rights, competition policy, government procurement and legal and institutional issues.
Looking ahead, the second round of negotiations will be held in Seoul, most likely in September.
We welcome input on issues of relevance to the Australia-Korea FTA negotiations. For further information email firstname.lastname@example.org.