South Korea has not yet ratified trade openness with 16 countries, with which it has agreed three regional trade agreements (RTAs), the World Trade Organization (WTO) reported.
In general, South Korea continues to actively enter into RTAs with its main trading partners.
At the regional level, in November 2020, it signed the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (RCEP, signed with 14 other nations), which has not yet been ratified.
In 2018, it signed an ARC with five Central American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama.
At the bilateral level, the ARC between Korea and the United Kingdom was signed in August 2019 and entered into force on January 1, 2021.
South Korea also concluded negotiations for an ARC with Israel in August 2019, which has not been signed.
In another trade opening, the RTA between Korea and Indonesia was signed on December 18, 2020, but it has not been ratified either.
The RTA with the United States was amended in 2018.
Trade openness and restrictions
In 2018 and 2019, Korea notified the WTO of its intention to suspend concessions and other obligations applied to certain imports from the United States and the European Union (EU) in response to the adoption by these Members of safeguard measures in relation to certain export products.
The authorities confirmed that all of South Korea’s RTAs partially cover agriculture, although rice is excluded.
In addition, South Korea grants preferential tariff treatment to a limited number of products imported from other developing countries, including those covered by the Global System of Trade Preferences among Developing Countries (GSTP), and by the GATT Protocol on Trade Negotiations among Developing Countries (TNDC).
To conclude, on April 5, 2018, South Korea notified the WTO, in accordance with Article 12.5 of the Agreement on Safeguards, that it intended to suspend concessions and other obligations applied to certain imports from the United States, to as a result of the imposition of safeguard duties by the United States on imports of certain large-capacity washing machines for domestic use and their parts.
Then, on April 2, 2019, South Korea notified the WTO, within the framework of the same Agreement, the proposed suspension of concessions and other obligations applied to certain imported products from the European Union, as a result of the imposition by the EU of definitive safeguard duties on imports of some steel products.