The purpose of the visit was to promote a deepening of trade relations and a modernisation of the trade agreement between the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and South Korea.
“EFTA already has a good trade agreement with South Korea. Over the past 13 years it has contributed to a significant increase in trade between Norway and South Korea. Even so, it is starting to become somewhat outdated given how global and bilateral trade is evolving. We therefore support EFTA’s desire to upgrade the agreement. We emphasised to our counterparts the unique opportunity we now have to develop new areas of trade and cooperation,” says Svein Roald Hansen (Labour Party), Head of Delegation to the EFTA and EEA Parliamentary Committees.
Meetings and field visits
The EFTA Parliamentary Committee had meetings with members of the National Assembly of the Republic of Korea as well as representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the deputy minister of the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy. The committee also conducted field visits to Ulsan, where Hyundai oversees large-scale automobile production and the world’s largest shipyard, and to the border with North Korea. Both visits shed light on the South Korean economy’s remarkable development in the past 20 to 30 years as well as the extraordinary security situation on the Korean Peninsula. The committee also met with the EU delegation in Seoul to learn more about the EU’s trade agreement with South Korea, which was established in 2011. It was a good opportunity to compare the EFTA and EU agreements as well as ongoing processes and the desire of both parties to upgrade their respective agreements.
“The visit made clear how developed and technology-driven the Korean economy is and, not least, how much Norwegian industry contributes to this development,” says Heidi Nordby Lunde (Conservative Party), Deputy Head of Delegation. “The yard in Ulsan showed this deep cooperation very clearly. The shipyard sells many vessels to Norwegian customers, while Norwegian companies sell components, technology and services to the Korean shipbuilding industry. We also got a sense of how the Korean economy is changing and the opportunities this may represent for a mutually beneficial increase in trade between Korea and Norway. Among other things, we suggested the possibility of increased collaboration on renewable energy, green shipping, smart cities and homes, and aquaculture. We pointed out that a more modern agreement between EFTA and South Korea could contribute to this.”
Norway’s Government Pension Fund Global has a significant investment position in the Hyundai conglomerate. The field visit to Ulsan, as seen through Norwegian eyes, was therefore of particular interest.
Svein Roald Hansen (Labour Party) and Heidi Nordby Lunde (Conservative Party) represented the Norwegian delegation. Other participants from the EFTA Parliamentary Committee were parliamentarians from Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland.