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South Korea, EU see trade boost as way out of crisis

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South Korea, EU see trade boost as way out of crisis

Van Rompuy - Park Geun-Hye - Barroso - Photo EU Council

(BRUSSELS) - EU leaders and South Korean President Park Geun-Hye agreed at summit talks Friday to give fresh impetus to a ground-breaking trade agreement as a way out of the economic doldrums.

"Europe's prosperity is linked to that of others such as Korea's," European Union president Herman Van Rompuy said at the close of an EU-Korea summit marking 50 years of diplomatic ties. "The answer is not protectionism but an increased opening of markets."

The two sides anchored their relationship in 2011 with a ground-breaking free trade deal, the first of its kind between the 28-nation bloc of 500 million people and an Asian partner.

The deal has given European Union exports a 24 percent boost and two years on, the EU is now the largest foreign investor in South Korea, said European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso.

But Park admitted there was "still room for improvement", and asked to comment on complaints from EU carmakers of continued barriers said: "We should try to eradicate discrimination at home or abroad."

Also during the summit the two signed a research deal and agreed that South Korea, as the first Asian partner, participate in EU crisis management operations.

A series of territorial disputes which pit China, Japan and South Korea against each other were also on the agenda as the bloc prepares for two other key Asian summits with Beijing and Tokyo later this month.

Park arrived in Brussels after stops in Paris and London this week.

Trade also featured high in Park's talks with British Prime Minister David Cameron.

Britain is the top destination for Korean investment in Europe while South Korea is the 16th largest market for British exports worldwide, officials said.

EU - South Korea trade

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