EU-Republic of Korea: Getting trade relations stronger

At a videoconference, the leaders discussed the global health crisis, economic recovery and the commitments on climate

The EU-Republic of Korea Summit videoconference took place on Tuesday morning on important topics for both partners. It brought together the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and the President of the Republic of Korea, Jae-in Moon.

However, the physical, tenth in a row summit, will be held in Seoul as soon as conditions allow.

As President Michel explained during the press conference after the session, there were three main items on the agenda, starting with the lessons learned from the handling of the Covid-19 outbreak. The leaders also discussed how the two parties can better cooperate to mitigate the effects of the crisis and what concrete steps are necessary to take in order to strengthen resilience at international level.  

President Michel also underlined that the Leader's meeting “put a spotlight on the common values that underpin our relationship”. Our Strategic Partnership is 10-years strong and getting stronger to overcome Covid-19, he outlined noting that they addressed the issue of economic recovery and how to build a more resilient and sustainable world with more inclusive societies. Both the UN and G20 are levers we must work with, Michel opined.

It was important to exchange experiences and best practices with the Republic of Korea on responding to the pandemic, President von der Leyen stressed accenting on “Korea's very innovative and successful approach to slowing down the pandemic”.

She remarked that one important aspect that they discussed is the need for mutual support in the supply of medical products, as well as concrete cooperation on research and development of diagnostics, vaccines and therapeutics, and increasing manufacturing capacity. Saying that the Republic of Korea made a very generous pledge to the Coronavirus Global Response initiative back in May, she determined that this shows that Korea is sending a very strong message to the world as a reliable partner in this common cause.

On the strategic partnership that the two parties have, she specified that the “intensity and level of our cooperation is among the highest that we have with any country in the world”. She pointed out that the Free Trade Agreement between the both sides is providing “concrete proof of the mutual benefits”. Our trade in goods passed €90bn last year, and interestingly, the trade in services reached nearly €20bn, she said adding that with President Moon they also discussed how to ensure that “our trade relations keep getting stronger in order to reach their full potential”.

The leaders reconfirmed as well their support to the World Health Organisation, acknowledging the role it plays in coordinating the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic. They welcomed the aid pledge by the EU, including its Member States, of over €36bn and the commitment of the Republic of Korea to step up its support to partner countries in strengthening their healthcare systems and tackling the economic and social impact.

The two parties are determined to restore robust economic growth and build more resilient, sustainable and inclusive economies and societies. Green transition and digital transformation will be integrated into their recovery strategies. The leaders welcomed the G20 Action Plan adopted by the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors to support the global economy during and after the pandemic and agreed to continue coordinating their responses. They reiterated their strong commitment to the full, swift and effective implementation of the Paris Agreement.

The EU and the Republic of Korea are resolved to strengthen the multilateral, rules-based trading system with the World Trade Organization at its core and to further strengthen its relevance through thorough reforms. They reiterated their goal to keep markets and the trading system open, to work to resolve disruptions to global supply chains and to realise a free, fair, non-discriminatory, transparent, predictable and stable trade and investment environment, which is critical to support the global economic recovery.

 

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