23 Oct 2013

Stalled Korean trade talks seen as long overdue

9:08 am on 23 October 2013

The free trade lobby group, International Business Forum, says New Zealand's exporters are being disadvantaged in South Korea and the resumption of trade talks is long overdue.

Seoul will resume stalled trade talks with New Zealand, Australia and Canada after negotiations broke down over how far Korea would go to open its agricultural market.

Forum executive director Stephen Jacobi says a deal should be relatively straightforward for Korea, after signing free trade agreements with America and Europe.

South Korea is not part of the Trans Pacific Partnership, but if it does complete these deals, it will have bilateral trade agreements with ten of the twelve participants.

Mr Jacobi says that should not deter Korea from joining the TPP, if the current talks are successful.

Korea is the world's 15th biggest economy, but it is protective of its farming sector, with tariffs costing New Zealand exporters $195 million a year.

In 2007, a study estimated a Korean trade deal would add more than $5 billion to New Zealand's economy by 2030.

Mr Jacobi says New Zealand offers little threat to South Korean farmers as it does not compete with the most sensitive areas of Korean production.