The European Commission has published its first-ever evaluation specifically looking at the effects of a comprehensive, “new generation” trade agreement (in this instance with South Korea) after its implementation.

Available here, it is a wide-ranging evaluation that covers all areas of the agreement. The lessons learnt will, the Commission suggests, be useful for other similar deals under negotiation or in force.

Based on the analysis, it has concluded that the EU-Korea trade agreement has been effective in achieving its objectives, such as: removing tariffs and other limitations on trade in goods and services and investment between the EU and Korea; the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights (in particular geographical indications); and the reduction of non-tariff costs.

The result has been a significant increase in trade on both sides.

For example, EU exports of goods to Korea increased by 76% to €49.2 billion between 2010 and 2018 while Korean exports also increased during this period, from €39.5 billion in 2010 to €51 billion in 2018.

With a faster growth on the EU side, the EU’s trade in goods deficit of €11.6 billion in 2010 has turned into broadly balanced trade in 2018. EU exports of services to Korea increased by 79%, compared to 38% for EU imports from Korea from 2010 to 2016.

Accordingly, the EU had a €6 billion trade surplus in 2016.

The EU-Korea Free Trade Agreement (FTA) has been provisionally applied since 1 July 2011. It is the first of a new generation of EU trade agreements, characterised by its comprehensive nature and high level of ambition, and the first one concluded by the EU with an Asian country.

The Commission will carry out a follow-up evaluation after a period of several years when the full effects of the FTA are observable.

It should then be also possible to compare the longer term effects of the EU-Korea FTA with the effects of other “new generation” trade agreements concluded by the EU such as the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between the EU and Canada and the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the EU and Japan.

Last reviewed 12 March 2019