Update #3– Third Negotiating Round – 21 December 2009
The third round of FTA negotiations between Australia and Korea was held in Canberra from 30 November – 4 December 2009.
The Korean delegation, of 85 officials in total, was again led by chief FTA negotiator, Director General Lee Tae-ho, from the Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MOFAT). Jan Adams, First Assistant Secretary, Free Trade Agreement Division, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) led an Australian delegation of about 100 officials from a broad range of Australian Government agencies.
In the lead-up to the third round, the two sides exchanged formal lists of goods market access requests and followed these up with updated goods market access offers (i.e. lists of possible tariff concessions). Australia again highlighted the improvements we are seeking in Korea's offer on agriculture products and referred to the concessions on agricultural market access that Korea had already granted to the United States and the EU in its free trade agreements with those countries (these FTAs have not yet entered into force).
The two sides continued with constructive exchanges on goods-related chapters. These include chapters on Trade in Goods, Technical Barriers to Trade and Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures, Trade Remedies, Rules of Origin and Customs Procedures. Differences continue to be narrowed, but further discussion will be required on remaining key areas of divergence. On Rules of Origin, most of the text is now agreed, and discussions have commenced on origin certification and verification issues; the product specific rules discussions also continue to make good progress in working through industrial goods sectors.
The two sides also discussed Korea’s proposals for enhanced cooperation in the agricultural and energy and mineral resources sectors. Australia has agreed to include chapters in these areas in the FTA.
Negotiations were also productive on various services and investment topics, including Cross-Border Trade in Services, Investment, Financial Services, Telecommunications and Movement of Natural Persons. Good progress was made across a wide range of the texts being discussed, and both sides are considering compromise proposals to move these negotiations forward again at subsequent rounds. The two sides exchanged initial services and investment market access offers earlier in November, and discussed these offers at the third round of negotiations. Australia and Korea have agreed to exchange formal services and investment market access requests before the fourth round.
Elsewhere, the two sides also had useful exchanges on topics including intellectual property rights, competition policy, government procurement, labour, environment and legal and institutional issues.
Looking ahead, the fourth round of negotiations will be held in Seoul in March 2010.
We welcome input on issues of relevance to the Australia-Korea FTA negotiations.