In a joint news conference held Nov. 16, South Korean President Park Geun-hye and New Zealand Prime Minister John Key announced that their countries have concluded negotiations on a free trade agreement. A fact sheet posted by New Zealand’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade indicates that Korea’s tariffs on New Zealand beef (currently 40 percent) are eliminated over 15 years, but with a product-specific safeguard. Tariffs on lamb and sheep meat (currently 22.5 percent) are eliminated over 10 years.
Meanwhile, Korea’s free trade agreements with Australia and Canada are moving closer to ratification. They were approved last week by the Korean National Assembly’s Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade, with final ratification expected in early December. This will allow the agreements to come into force by the end of 2014. Once in effect, the tariff reduction schedules for beef and pork are similar to those included in the Korea-U.S. FTA. However, there are no “catch-up” provisions, so the United States will retain a tariff rate advantage over Australia and Canada until those countries’ products reach zero duty. This is also the case with the Korea-New Zealand FTA.