15 Nov 2014

NZ concludes South Korean free trade deal

7:57 pm on 15 November 2014

New Zealand has concluded a free trade deal with South Korea after five years of talks.

Korea FTA

New Zealand Prime Minister, John Key and South Korean president, Park Guen-hye, announce the successful conclusion of free trade talks. Photo: RNZ / Patrick O'Meara

Prime Minister John Key announced the breakthrough at the G20 Summit in Brisbane.

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The talks resumed late last year after a four-year hiatus, with Korea's reluctance to open its agricultural markets too much being a main sticking point.

Mr Key said it had been a difficult process, but this deal was a good one for exporters.

Two-way trade was worth $3.6 billion dollars in 2013.

Beef and Lamb New Zealand's chairman James Parsons, said exporters were losing a competitive edge in the Korean market, paying higher tariffs than other countries with free trade deals.

He said South Korea was New Zealand's fourth largest beef export market with more than $110 million worth of trade and the agreement will be a life line for those in the red meat industry.

Prime Minster John Key arrives in Brisbane for the G20 Summit.

Prime Minster John Key arrives in Brisbane for the G20 Summit. Photo: RNZ / Patrick O'Meara

Exporters pay $229 million in tariffs each year to Korea, including 89 percent on butter, 45 percent on kiwifruit and 40 percent on beef.

Trade analysts said South Korea had already signed free-trade deals with many of New Zealand's rivals, and the agreement meant exporters would not be disadvantaged by paying higher tariffs than their competitors.

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