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International

Bilateral relations > Republic of Korea

The Korean Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) is Korea's competition agency. It develops competition policy and enforces competition laws with a view to promoting competition in the market and enhancing consumer welfare.

The KFTC enforces the Monopoly Regulation and Fair Trade Act (MRFTA), which dates from 1981 and was last amended in April 2005. This Act covers abuse of dominant positions, cartels, mergers and acquisitions affecting the Korean market. The MRFTA also contains provisions on consumer protection and competition advocacy.

Cooperation between the European Commission and the KFTC is based on two documents:

  • the Cooperation Agreement signed in May 2009

    The Agreement provides for:
    • the reciprocal notification of cases under investigation by either authority, where they may affect the important interests of the other party;
    • the possibility of coordination by the two authorities of their enforcement activities, as well as of rendering assistance to each other;
    • the possibility for one party to request the other to take enforcement action, and for one party to take into account the important interests of the other party in the course of its enforcement activities; and
    • the exchange of information between the parties, while not affecting either party's confidentiality obligations with respect to such information.
    • regular bilateral meetings to exchange information on current enforcement activities and priorities, on economic sectors of common interest, to discuss policy changes which either party is considering, and to discuss other matters of mutual interest relating to the application of competition laws.

      This agreement has entered into force 1 July 2009.
  • The EU Korea Free Trade Agreement signed in October 2010
    • The FTA includes a comprehensive chapter on competition policy as well as chapter on State subsidies. While the EU-Korea bilateral Cooperation agreement contains the objectives and instruments of technical cooperation between both competition authorities, the FTA Chapter on competition focuses more on substantive issues, such as the duty to adopt/maintain legislation on competition, to set up an effective agency and to respect general principles of competition law (e.g. due process, non-discrimination).
    • The section on State subsidies contains a prohibition of certain types of subsidies (i.e. some of the most distortive forms of aid such as unlimited guarantees and subsidies to ailing companies without a restructuring plan), in so far as they affect international trade. This is the first time that an FTA includes such a prohibition. The section also contains transparency provisions according to which Parties have to report annually the total amount, types and the sectoral distribution of subsidies. Moreover, parties are obliged to provide further information on subsidy schemes or individual subsidies on request. The rules on subsidies apply to goods with the exception of agriculture. The agreement also contains a rendez-vous clause for services – Parties will discuss 3 years after entry into force of the agreement if this section should also be applied to services. Finally, and importantly, this section is subject to the dispute settlement mechanism.
Key documents
  • Agreement between the EU and the Republic of Korea concerning cooperation on anti-competitive activities
  • 2006 Annual Bilateral Meeting: Keynote speech by Commissioner Kroes at the Korean Competition Forum on 26 June 2006
  • OECD Recommendation (1995) concerning cooperation between member countries on anti-competitive practices affecting international trade
  
Related links
European Commission - Trade - Korea
European External Action Service – Korea