South Korea, EU reach 'provisional' free trade deal

March 24, 2009 10:37


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Chief negotiators for South Korea and the European Union reached a tentative free trade agreement Tuesday after nearly two years of talks, but left key issues of a "political nature" for their trade ministers to resolve next week in London. Officials for the two sides told reporters that they had reached a "provisional" accord in almost all areas during two days of talks, but that they remained far apart in certain contentious areas, including duty drawback and rules of origin. EU chief negotiator Ignacio Garcia Bercero indicated that serious work remained to be done, cautioning that "success is not guaranteed" and that "nothing is agreed until everything is agreed." Lee Hye-min, Garcia Bercero's South Korean counterpart, echoed the latter sentiment, adding that he is "neither optimistic nor pessimistic" regarding the eventual outcome of the negotiations.

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