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Development Overview

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Overview of Korea’s development experience

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Development Overview
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GATT WTO policy

The GATT, signed in 1947, aimed to expand free trade by lowering trade barriers and abolishing differential treatment based on the principle of multilateralism. Through eight negotiating rounds, the GATT was committed to expanding fair and free trade. Korea became the 71st member state to the agreement in 1967, when the 6th Kennedy Round took place. Korea conceded tariffs on 60 items at the Kennedy Round and increased the number to 657 items at the 7th Tokyo Round, which represented 10 percent of all tariff goods.

The 8th Uruguay Round was critical in that it contained a wide range of agendas including service trade, intellectual property rights, agricultural and textile goods, and a number of other issues to clarify anti-dumping and safeguard measures. As a result of the UR, the WTO was established and the trade-related dispute settlement process was tightened by the organization.

Unlike previous rounds, Korea played an active role during the UR process, increasing its tariff binding from 24 percent to 90 percent and reducing its tariffs by 54 percent. In services trade, the country conceded 78 items out of 155. The stricter rules governing the dispute settlement process were beneficial to Korea as it faced problems due to resurging global protectionism. At the same time, the country was forced to abolish export subsidies according to the UR agreement.

The DDA, the first multilateral negotiations under the WTO, was held in Doha, Qatar starting in 2001 in accordance with the promises given under the UR. The DDA covers nine main issues, including agricultural products, non-agricultural market access (NAMA) and trade in services, but is currently at a standstill. Korea has generally maintained a supportive stance toward the DDA. For NAMA and services trade, Korea is demanding wider market access. But Korea, a developing country in terms of agricultural imports, insists that the agricultural market must be opened gradually.

Source : SaKong, Il and Koh, Youngsun, 2010. The Korean Economy Six Decades of Growth and Development. Seoul: Korea Development Institute.

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