European Union trade negotiators are believed to have offered slightly eased demands regarding non-tariff barriers on automobiles in the fourth round of free trade talks with Korea that began on Monday.
Negotiators from the two sides opened the latest round of FTA talks at the Shilla Hotel in Seoul and tackled tariff concessions on goods, service trade, e-commerce and country of origin.
Regarding non-tariff barriers on automobiles, a government official said the EU had been demanding that Korea accept 102 automotive technology standards adopted by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE). But ahead of this round of talks, the EU had offered somewhat eased demands, the official added.
In exchange for accepting Korea’s automotive technology standards, the EU is believed to have demanded that Korea accept those UNECE standards that have been internationally recognized. But the government official said those demands were still tough ones for Korea to accept, suggesting progress in negotiations remains tough.
During Monday's talks, Korean trade officials discussed its concession proposals to the EU that don't meet the levels of market opening set in the Korea-U.S. FTA, explaining the reasons for the differences and the chances of improving them.
Korean negotiators reportedly explained to their EU counterparts the fact that the volume and structure of trade between Korea and the EU are different than that of Korea and the U.S., and therefore the U.S. FTA could not be used as a standard.
In service trade, the EU demanded Korea open up its legal sector, while Korea offered mutual recognition of professional qualifications.
The two sides also discussed goods made in North Korea's Kaesong Industrial Complex, which is operated jointly with South Korea, as being considered made in South Korea. The fourth round of negotiations will end on Friday.