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Ten years since Korea's first free trade deal; auto sector benefits most Updated: 2014-04-01 18:00:46 KST

 Ten years since Korea's first free trade deal; auto sector benefits most
The trade volume between Korea and Chile has jumped four-and-a-half times to more than 7-billion U.S. dollars over the past ten years.
Exports grew from 500-million to 2-and-a-half-billion dollars while imports more than quadrupled to 4.7 billion dollars, according to the Korea Customs Service.
Given that Korea's overall trade volume increased about three-fold in the same period, experts say the trade sector has without question benefited from the Korea-Chile FTA.
Since 2004, Korea has entered into nine free trade pacts with a total of 46 countries.
And the nation's automobile industry remains the biggest beneficiary.
But very real concerns linger over the impact on the nation's agricultural industry.
In order to minimize the negative effects on the domestic agricultural sector, experts are calling for reforms in the market's retail structure.

"For items that are dominant in the market, more open competition needs to be in place so that the consumers can reap the benefits. Korea's retail industry also tends to be monopolistic. Diverse retail channels will help products compete in a fairer manner."

Questions over whether the nation's small- and mid-sized firms have seen any benefits also remain.
A survey conducted by the Korea International Trade Association shows that although 60 percent of the nation's SMEs with sales of less than 9.3 million dollars utilized the FTAs, nearly half felt that the trade deals had not helped them in any way.
Trade officials have called for more detailed and customized information to be readily available to the SMEs so that they can strategize and pave themselves an easier path into the overseas market.
Laah Hyun-kyung, Arirang News.
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