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Agreement with the Republic of Korea

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Agreement with the Republic of Korea

The Republic of Korea was the first country in Asia to conclude a customs cooperation agreement with the European Community. The Agreement has a dual aim: to combat infringements such as piracy and counterfeiting, and to facilitate trade between the two parties. It therefore provides for several measures to improve cooperation between the customs authorities of the two contracting parties.


Council Decision 97/291/EC of 26 April 1997 concerning the conclusion of the Agreement between the European Community and the Republic of Korea on cooperation and mutual administrative assistance in customs matters.


Under this Agreement, the parties undertake to assist each other in order to ensure that customs legislation is properly implemented *. It provides for multi-faceted cooperation, ranging from cooperation in the research, development and testing of new customs procedures to the simplification, harmonisation and computerisation of those procedures. The parties also assist each other in the prevention and investigation of operations in breach of customs legislation.

Customs cooperation

The parties undertake to develop customs cooperation by:

  • joint efforts, in particular in the research, development and testing of new customs procedures;
  • the training and exchange of staff;
  • the simplification, harmonisation and computerisation of customs procedures;
  • the exchange of professional, scientific and technical data relating to customs legislation;
  • the exchange of information on actions undertaken with third countries in relation to technical assistance.

Mutual administrative assistance

The Agreement provides for two types of assistance:

  • assistance on request: the requested authority * must furnish the applicant authority * with all relevant information to enable it to ensure that customs legislation is correctly applied. The information may concern operations in breach of customs legislation and the regularity of export and import procedures between the two countries.

The Agreement also provides that special surveillance may be requested in all suspect cases. Such surveillance may be applied to any natural or legal person, any place, movement of goods or means of transport which is or may be linked or used to commit operations in breach of customs legislation.

  • spontaneous assistance: the parties may provide each other with assistance on their own initiative if they consider that to be necessary for the correct application of customs legislation.

Formal aspects and exceptions to assistance

Requests must be made in writing, except in urgent cases where oral requests may be made, confirmed in writing thereafter. Requests must be accompanied by all the information needed for their execution and must include data on the applicant authority, the measure requested, the object of and the reason for the request, the legislation involved and the natural or legal persons who are the target of the investigation.

The requested authority supplies information already possessed and carries out appropriate enquiries. It may refuse to provide assistance if to do so would be likely to prejudice the sovereignty, public policy, security or other essential interests of one of the parties. The obligation to provide assistance may also be waived where to do so would violate an industrial, commercial or professional secret, or involve currency or tax regulations other than customs legislation.

The Agreement contains confidentiality clauses in relation to the information supplied. A high level of protection is given to personal data.

The Agreement provides for the establishment of a Joint Customs Cooperation Committee which sees to the proper functioning of the Agreement and examines all issues arising from its application.

Key terms used in the act

  • Customs legislation: customs legislation includes any legal provisions adopted by the European Community or the Republic of Korea governing the import, export and transit of goods and their placing under any other customs procedure, including measures of prohibition, restriction and control.
  • Requested authority: the competent customs authority which receives a request for assistance.
  • Applicant authority: the competent customs authority which makes a request for assistance.



Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Decision 97/291/EC



OJ L 121 of 13.5.1997

See also

Additional information is available on the website of the Directorates-General for Taxation and Customs Union (international customs cooperation agreements) and External Relations (relations of the EU with the Republic of Korea) of the European Commission.

Last updated: 27.07.2005