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S. Korea and EU finalize free-trade deal

South Korea and the EU have concluded negotiations on a free-trade deal that is expected to increase commercial exchanges by a near $100 billion for both sides.

Seoul and Brussels started negotiations in 2007 to lower barriers to trade and investment. The EU is Korea’s second largest export market, and South Korea is the EU’s fourth largest non-European trade partner.

The trade pact faced strong opposition from the European auto industry on the issue of duty drawback that will allow South Korean carmakers to import cheaper automobile parts from other countries and receive a reimbursement on them for cars exported to EU member states.

South Korean pork and dairy producers have voiced concern over the pact, which will scrap most tariffs on pork and dairy products over the next 5 to 15 years.

The drafted deal (a preliminary siging is scheduled for September) outlines plans to make 97 percent of the trade between the two sides duty-free.