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EU sees SKorea trade deal despite Italian worries

EU sees SKorea trade deal despite Italian worries

The European Union has offered Italy assurances for its embattled auto industry in an attempt to clear the way for a multibillion dollar free trade deal with South Korea, Belgium's foreign minister said Friday.
The deal that would wipe out billions of dollars in industrial and agricultural duties between South Korea and the 27-nation bloc was initialed a year ago but has since been held up by Rome, which fears the pact could hurt Italy's car makers.
"We have come very close to finalizing the procedure," Belgian Foreign Minister Steven Vanackere said after chairing a meeting of EU trade ministers. "Hopefully we will finalize that on Monday."
If a deal cannot be done by Monday, the EU wants to be able to have full agreement by an EU-South Korea summit on Oct. 6.
He did not elaborate on what changes had been proposed to placate the Italians, saying only there is "language on the table to make sure Italian concerns are taken into account."
Vanackere said the free trade deal "would be a clear signal that Europe is open for business and that we want to create wealth and security and jobs for our people."
German Secretary of State Bernd Pfaffenbach said he expects Italy to sign off by Monday so that the agreement can come into force in the first half of 2011.


Updated : 2020-11-30 20:04 GMT+08:00