South Korea and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have agreed on agricultural tariff-cutting measures to help facilitate a free trade agreement (FTA).
The agreement was reached at talks held in Cambodia last week. Official signing will take place at the next meeting in the Philippines later this month.
Under the deal, South Korea designated 200 agricultural products that will be exempt from tariff reductions due to their effect on local farmers.
Most ASEAN countries agreed to allow Seoul to hold onto tariffs on 40 “super sensitive” products, while gradually reducing duties on others in the coming years.
Rice, chili peppers, garlic, beef, certain pork products, chicken, pineapples, apples and pears are among the exceptions to tariff cuts.
Seoul will maintain the existing level of tariffs on products such as ginseng, powered milk and sweet potatoes until 2015, before cutting tariffs by 20% starting in 2016. The same grace period will apply to corn and orange juice, but the rate of cuts will reach 50% of present levels.
Seoul has FTAs with Chile and Singapore and is seeking similar arrangements with ASEAN, Canada and the US.