Former Minister for Trade
Australian Commonwealth Coat of Arms

Media Release

18 May, 2009

Free Trade Negotiations with South Korea Underway

The Minister for Trade, Simon Crean, and the Republic of Korea’s Minister for Trade, His Excellency Mr Kim Jong-hoon, met today in Melbourne for talks aimed at further strengthening the bilateral trade and investment relationship. 

Ministers officially launched the first round of negotiations for a bilateral Free Trade Agreement. 

"I am delighted that Australia and South Korea have reached the point of commencing FTA negotiations.  A bilateral FTA is a natural step in the evolution of our commercial relationship.  It reflects the high degree of complementarity between our economies and the shared commitment of the Governments of Australia and South Korea to liberalised trade and investment, even in times of global economic difficulty", Mr Crean said. 

"Australia will pursue a comprehensive and commercially meaningful FTA with South Korea – one that allows us to expand the traditional elements of what is already a very substantial commercial relationship, but also opens up new opportunities, particularly in services and investment". 

"Through our discussions today, Mr Kim and I have outlined our respective priorities and expectations for the negotiations, and paved the way for what I am confident will be a very constructive round of negotiations in Canberra for the rest of this week", Mr Crean said. 

Ministers also discussed a range of bilateral, regional and multilateral issues of mutual interest and concern during the Ministerial Joint Trade and Economic Commission meeting. 

"I encouraged Korea to seek to secure commercially focussed, long-term supply arrangements with Australian resources and energy suppliers.  Australia has a proven track record in the supply of resources, including to Korea, and we would welcome Korea taking up further opportunities in this area". 

"I also raised a number of market access concerns of Australian industry, relating to both goods, services and investment." 

"Mr Kim and I agreed on the importance of ensuring that the outcomes of the

G-20 London Summit are implemented, particularly reforms of international financial institutions and progress in strengthening financial regulation and supervision". 

"We also agreed on the important role that the World Trade Organisation has to play in responding to the impact of the global financial crisis, particularly in ensuring there is no retreat to protectionism.  We agreed to continue to work together and with our other partners in the WTO, to move forward the Doha Round", Mr Crean said.

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