EU-Korea FTA

The implementation of a free trade deal concluded with Korea – the EU’s tenth-largest trading partner – is well on the way, notes the European Commission.  In 2009, Korea became the first Asian country to sign a free trade agreement (FTA) with the EU eliminating tariffs and non-tariff barriers in almost all products, including pharmaceuticals.  The FTA has been in force since July 2011.

The EU is a net exporter of pharmaceuticals to Korea.  The European Commission’s trade statistics show that in 2012 the EU’s pharma exports to Korea reached € 1,530 million whereas  imports from Korea totaled € 124 million.  In 2009, prior to conclusion of the FTA, the EU’s pharma exports to Korea totaled € 1,007 million and imports from Korea € 71 million.  A Korean source observes that in the first 15 months after the FTA came into force, the EU’s top medical export to Korea was ‘drugs for retail sale’ while its most imported medical product from Korea was ‘ultrasound diagnostic devices’. (Source: KHIDI Brief Vol. 49 as published on November 19, 2012.)

In addition to tariffs, the EU-Korea FTA addresses a number of non-tariff issues impacting pharmaceuticals, notably intellectual property (IP) protection.  The FTA includes a comprehensive chapter on this subject with important provisions on patent protection, as discussed below.  Some of these provisions in fact reflect existing laws, while others represent new developments.

Continue Reading Drug Patent Protection in Korea under the EU-Korea Free Trade Agreement