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Britain wants more service-sector trade under new FTA with S. Korea: envoy

According to Yonhap News,

(SEOUL=Yonhap News) Britain wants to have more trade in the service sector under a new free trade deal that it would seek with South Korea after completing its process of leaving the European Union, London's top envoy to Seoul said Friday.

Charles Hay, Britain's Ambassador to South Korea, said in a recent interview with Yonhap News TV, a broadcasting unit of Yonhap News Agency, also called for more efforts to bring the financial market regulation here in line with international standards, saying that there is more room for market liberalization.

"While the current FTA is a very deep and wide FTA, particularly with regards to goods and goods trade. I think where we could do more is in services," the ambassador said.

"The U.K. is very strong in the service sector. The current FTA is not very strong on services. And in the future, I'd like to see more scope for trade in services between the UK and Korea. Particular, for example, in legal and other services," he added.

Hay said Korea also has many advantages in its financial services industry, citing highly-educated and literate workforce and a well-established ICT infrastructure, but there are things that can be done.

"One is to try to bring regulations more in line with international financial regulation... But the other thing... is that a growing financial sector isn't just about the financial market. It's about the broader services market," he said.

In June, Britons voted to leave the EU in a landmark referendum, becoming the first nation to abandon the 28-member bloc. Once it leaves the EU, it will no longer be bound by the free trade deal the EU has in place with South Korea, requiring Seoul and London to sign a new open trade deal down the road.

Right after the so-called Brexit decision was announced, the South Korean government said that it will seek a new FTA with Britain as quickly as possible.

"I was very encouraged when after the decision to leave the EU happened, the Korean government was very quick to say that they wanted to negotiate a new deal with the U.K. to maintain that excellent level of trade which we have currently between our two countries," the ambassador said.

"We are going to have to discuss that with the Korean government but my own hope and I believe it's the hope also for the Korean side is that we find a way through to provide seamless transition from the FTA we now have to a future trading arrangement which will allow us to continue to build trade between our two countries," he added.

Asked about the Korean economy, Hay said that its outlook is "good," citing its trade surplus and growing GDP and the recent upgrade of a sovereignty credit rating by Standard & Poor's.

He, however, noted that its weaknesses might be on the domestic side, mentioning the slow headway made in the Seoul government's current push for "structural" and "regulatory" reform.

With regard to the worries that the Brexit decision can increase uncertainty and make Korean companies reluctant or unwilling to enter the market, Hay emphasized that Britain has strong economic fundamentals, saying that its good economic situations include relatively high employment, low debt and continued economic growth.

"I believe all the economic fundamentals in the U.K. are still there," he said. "I firmly believe the U.K. will remain a great place to do business for Korean and other companies."

Copyrights Yonhap News. All Rights Reserved.

Source Text

Source: Yonhap News (Sep. 2, 2016)

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