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“EU is One of the World’s Largest Markets”

Posted April. 04, 2007 07:55,   


“The European Union is one of the world’s largest markets, including the U.S. and Asia. If a Korea-EU Free Trade Agreement is signed, Korean companies will have easier access to Europe,” said Jurgne Wohler (age 57), the new director-general of the Korean-German Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Wohler said on April 3 that following the successful conclusion of the Korea-U.S. FTA, a Korea-EU FTA should be concluded as soon as possible. He also insisted that a Korea-EU FTA is necessary, saying that an FTA is a good platform.

Moreover, he pointed out that a Korea-EU FTA will be helpful because Korea and the EU have maintained ‘balanced economic exchange’ without securing unilateral advantages over each other. Plus, he mentioned that the two parties can benefit financially from the two-way trade deal because they have very few “sensitive items” that could cause a long and tedious negotiation.

He also added that the EU can become a better trade partner for Korea than Japan and China, which are both Korea’s major trading partners and direct competitors.

“Germany has the largest economy and the most advanced technology in the EU. Therefore, the nation could help Korea strengthen its own technology and compete with other nations.” he said.

He also pointed out that Germany’s role is very important in the economic exchange relationship between Korea and the EU, and emphasized the partnership between the two countries.

Wohler said that not a single German company has left Korea, even after the 1997 financial crisis, and that German companies have continuously increased investment in Korea. Most of Germany’s investment in Korea has been made to generate new jobs.

Meanwhile, he pointed out that Germany should learn from Korean companies in terms of speed in launching new products in the marketplace, and Korea’s habit of making the impossible possible. Moreover, he added that Korean firms first succeeded in commercializing MP3 players, even though German companies first invented those products.

He also gave a positive outlook on Korea’s economy. He said that compared to other OECD member nations, Korea’s current economic growth rate of 4-5 % is not bad, although it is lower than China’s. Moreover, he said that Korea has had a business-friendly environment for foreign companies to work in after regulations were eased since the financial crisis of 1997.

Wohler, known in Korea for his work as director of the Korean German Chamber of Commerce and Industry for 3 years since 1985, is used to Korean culture as he got married to a Korean woman at that time. He has been senior vice president of the Baden-Württemberg Bank in Germany, president of the Korean German Business Association, and president of the South-North Korean Committee of the German Asia-Pacific Business Association.