The fifth round of FTA negotiations between Australia and Korea was held in Canberra from 25 to 28 May 2010.
The Korean delegation, of 55 officials in total, was led by Chief FTA negotiator, Lee Tae-ho, from the Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MOFAT). Jan Adams, First Assistant Secretary of DFAT's FTA Division, led an Australian delegation of about 50 officials from a wide range of Australian Government agencies. Real progress was again made at this round - both sides are clearly keen to see this negotiation through to conclusion as quickly as we can, and this has underpinned the constructive attitude both sides continue to demonstrate. Nevertheless, significant challenges remain in achieving improvements in Korea's goods market access offer, particularly on agriculture.
Overall, the majority of chapter texts have been effectively concluded, including on topics such as Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT), Sanitary and Phytosanitary Standards (SPS), Dispute Settlement, Customs Procedures and Trade Facilitation, and E-Commerce, although all chapter negotiations remain subject to the legal scrub process and the conclusion of the agreement as a whole.
In the lead-up to the fifth round, the two sides exchanged further clarifications regarding each side's respective goods market access interests. At the round, Australia continued to highlight the improvements we need in Korea's goods offer, particularly for priority agricultural products. Korea similarly highlighted its interest in the elimination of Australia's tariffs on its priority industrial products.
The two sides continued with constructive exchanges on goods-related chapters. In addition to those chapter texts mentioned above, these include chapters on Trade in Goods, Trade Remedies and Rules of Origin. Despite the effective conclusion of some goods-related chapters, further discussion will be required in certain areas. The two sides also continued to discuss each side's proposals for enhanced cooperation in the agricultural, energy and mineral resources sectors.
We also had substantial discussions on various services and investment topics. Text negotiations in the five relevant chapters (Cross-Border Trade in Services, Investment, Financial Services, Telecommunications and Movement of Natural Persons) have moved close to conclusion in most areas. Before the round, the two sides exchanged revised services and investment market access requests, and the fifth round provided an opportunity to further discuss each side's priorities and sensitivities. Australia's requests have focused on sectors including financial services, telecommunications, professional services and education.
Negotiations on other chapters, including Intellectual Property Rights and Government Procurement, made further good progress. Both sides also exchanged and discussed initial government procurement market access offers, and this discussion will continue at future meetings.
Looking ahead, the next set of FTA discussions between the two sides is scheduled to be held in Seoul in August 2010.
Further details on the FTA are available on our website: Australia-Korea FTA Negotiations