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EU, South Korea debate impact of free trade accord

EU and South Korean leaders have come together for a summit in Brussels to review the results of a free trade agreement the two sides signed in 2011. Automotive industry lobbyists spoke of annoying trade barriers.

Friday's high-level summit between the European Union and South Korea set out among other things to review the benefits of a bilateral free trade agreement the two sides signed in July 2011.

The European Commission noted ahead of the meeting EU exports to the Asian country jumped by 24 percent to seven billion euros ($9.38 billion) last year, compared with the year before the agreement went into effect.

At the same time, EU imports from South Korea decreased, leaving the bloc with a significant trade surplus.

Car producers worried

Watch video 01:09

South Korea's car market

But despite the overall EU export boom, European carmakers spoke of "old and new trade barriers," calling on the EU executive and national governments to see to it that those obstacles were removed as soon as possible.

European automotive lobby association ACEA argued "the removal of all barriers was crucial to make free trade a reality for the continents auto industry in South Korea."

ACEA specifically mentioned what it called "new non-tariff barriers," including excessive technical requirements hindering car exports to South Korea.

Friday's summit was also supposed to deal with a range of political issues, including the Asian country's relationship with neighboring North Korea.

hg/dr (AFP, dpa)

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