Korea ratchets up drive to upgrade FTA with ASEAN

Yonhap 2012-07-15

Korea ratchets up drive to upgrade FTA with ASEAN

Korea is stepping up efforts to seal high-level bilateral free trade pacts with some members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in a bid to further boost trade volume, Seoul’s Trade Ministry said Sunday.

According to the ministry, Korea is set to hold minister-level talks with Vietnam soon over a bilateral free trade accord.

Korea is also in negotiations with Indonesia over a so-called comprehensive economic partnership agreement, which is equivalent to a free trade agreement. Last week, the two countries held their first round of free trade talks in Jakarta.

“If bilateral free trade pacts with Vietnam and Indonesia are sealed, exports to both nations will increase,” said an official at the ministry.

Korea has a free trade agreement with the 10-member ASEAN that includes Indonesia and Vietnam.

But the country has also been seeking bilateral pacts with some ASEAN members to further boost trade with the region.

Korea, a resource-scarce nation that relies mainly on exports for economic growth, has been aggressively seeking free trade accords with foreign countries to expand what President Lee Myung-bak calls the country’s “economic territory.”

The fourth-largest Asian economy has eight FTAs already in effect, including those with the United States, the European Union and India, and is in negotiations with seven other nations, including Turkey, Canada, Mexico, Australia and New Zealand.

(Yonhap News)

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