Asia’s Free Trade Agreements

Asia’s Free Trade Agreements

How is Business Responding?

ADBI series on Asian Economic Integration and Cooperation

Edited by Masahiro Kawai and Ganeshan Wignaraja

The spread of Asia’s free trade agreements (FTAs) has sparked an important debate on the impact of such agreements on business activity. This pioneering study uses new evidence from surveys of East Asian exporters – including Japan, the People’s Republic of China, the Republic of Korea and three ASEAN economies of the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand – to shed light on the FTA debate.

Chapter 5: Republic of Korea

Inkyo Cheong and Jungran Cho

Subjects: asian studies, asian business, asian economics, business and management, asia business, international business, economics and finance, asian economics, international economics


Inkyo Cheong and Jungran Cho INTRODUCTION Despite its limited natural resources and small domestic consumer market, the Republic of Korea (hereinafter Korea) has grown into one of the largest economies in the world, having taken advantage of globalization and global trade liberalization under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) system.1 It is also an active participant in various bilateral free trade agreements (FTAs) and the Doha Development Round of multilateral trade negotiations. When Korea was a developing country, it opened up its market only to a minimum. Over the past several years, Korea has come to see the advantages of an open economy. With its elevated global economic position, Korea has recognized that the principle of mutual reciprocity has to be applied to trade liberalization. Lee Myung-bak’s government, which was elected in February 2008, decided on the construction of a ‘global FTA network’ as its core foreign trade policy. It also plans to improve the country’s declining trade environment in response to the recent global financial crisis, and to sustain the country’s economic growth through the conclusion of FTAs.2 Despite the assertive stance of the government, critics complain that FTAs currently being implemented in Korea are only beneficial to some enterprises. Also, while the Korean government has been pushing for the conclusion of pending FTAs, it has been less successful in providing information to help Korean businesses utilize the existing FTAs. This chapter summarizes key findings from previous surveys3 and presents new evidence from a survey conducted in...

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