The European Union Chamber of Commerce in Korea is turning up the heat on the Korean government to reduce non-tariff barriers and modify regulations to align them with international standards.
On Friday, a week ahead of the tentative implementation of the Korea-EU free trade agreement, the EUCCK published a report outlining non-tariff issues regarding access to the Korean market in 20 categories.
Sectors the EUCCK singled out for facing non-tariff barriers include the automotive, banking and pharmaceutical industries. The EUCCK also pointed out the relatively weak protection provided for intellectual property rights and tax regulations that hamper foreign companies’ operations.
EUCCK president Jean Marie Hurtiger speaks at a press conference on its report on market access issues in Seoul on Friday. (Park Hyun-koo/The Korea Herald)
EUCCK president and Renault Samsung Motors Co. CEO Jean Marie Hurtiger said that while the tariff removal effected by the FTA will bring significant benefits for both sides, Korea needs to address a number of issues for it to become more accessible to foreign concerns.
“While the FTA will address the tariff barriers that have prevented so far many EU investors from penetrating the Korean market, there are still many market access issues that remain to be tackled,” Hurtiger said. Citing the examples of European pharmaceuticals and cosmetics makers, Hurtiger said that many industries still face regulations that can be considered as market barriers. He added that enforcement of intellectual property rights laws also remain substandard despite the country having the “best legislation in the region.”
Hurtiger also pointed to the complex nature of local regulations, and difficulties in dealing with government officials as non-tariff barriers limiting access to the Korean market.
“There are so many complicated regulations in Korea administered at the discretion of inconstant officials that often businesses find it impossible to observe all the rules. In addition, officials apply regulations on a selective basis, arbitrarily enforcing them at random, against specific targets.”
The EUCCK president also put forward eight goals the country needs to achieve to become an “open and modern economy.”
The goals are full liberalization of financial services, stronger service industry and intellectual property rights protection, and accepting international standards and testing procedures. The goals also include comprehensive energy policy, sustainable health and pension system consistent SME’s development plan and flexible labor policy
By Choi He-suk (email@example.com