Tuesday, September 23, 2014

South Korea/España: Madrid Urges Seoul to Remove Trade Barriers to Prompt Exports

According to EFESpain’s Secretary of State for Trade, Jaime García-Legaz, on Monday (September 22) urged the South Korean government to remove trade restrictions so that Spain can continue increasing its exports, as he urged companies to make deeper inroads into Asia’s fourth economy.

García-Legaz evaluated as “very positive” the outcome of the fourth Mixed Committee of Economy, Science and Technology held Monday, a biennial meeting to resolve outstanding issues.

“We have asked Seoul for an effort to speed up export procedures,” especially for fruit, pork and beef, he said in an interview with EFE in Seoul.

García-Legaz regretted that, while South Korea and the European Union (EU) have a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) treaty, the current South Korean legislation “hinders exports” with “lengthy, time-consuming and expensive” procedures.

According to García-Legaz, “It is important that our companies focus more on Korea and come here more and make a greater effort to enter,” as the market offers “a lot of room for growth in textiles, fashion or consumer and industrial goods.

In the first half of 2014, Spain increased its year-on-year exports to South Korea by 85.5% by boosting sales of gas, automobiles, pork, shoes and wine, thus generating the first trade surplus since data started being collected two decades ago.

Representatives from Spanish companies such as Acciona, Codorniu, Abeinsa (Abengoa) or BBVA, who work in South Korea, along with others from ten other Spanish companies in Japan held a meeting Monday with the Secretary of State and raised their concerns to him.

COMMENT: Most of those in attendance agreed that trade and investment conditions in South Korea are “very difficult” due to tough competition from large Japanese multinationals and restrictions imposed by the government on foreign businesses to benefit local firms.

García-Legaz acknowledged the Spanish government’s difficulty in overcoming these obstacles and said that “it would be beneficial for everyone” that Seoul “understand that it must improve the business environment” to facilitate foreign investment.

García-Legaz leaves Monday for China, where the President of the Spanish Government, Mariano Rajoy, is expected to arrive Wednesday on a distinctly economic official visit.

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