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S. Korea inks free trade pact with Indonesia

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photo: Harvey Barrison

Korea Herald | 18 December 2020

S. Korea inks free trade pact with Indonesia

(Yonhap) — South Korea formally inked a comprehensive trade deal with Indonesia on Friday, paving the way for local exporters to penetrate deeper into the Southeast Asian market.

Industry Minister Sung Yun-mo met his Indonesian counterpart Agus Suparmanto here to sign the comprehensive economic partnership agreement (CEPA), according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy. The pact now needs a parliamentary approval.

The two countries resumed their talks in 2019 after a five-year hiatus.

The CEPA is equivalent to a free trade agreement but focuses on a broader scope of economic cooperation.

The Seoul-Jakarta CEPA marks the country’s third individual trade pact to be signed with a Southeast Asian nation.

The agreement is expected to grant local exporters wider access to Indonesia, which boasts the largest population in Southeast Asia.

Asia’s No. 4 economy also currently awaits the official launch of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) in the near future, which covers ASEAN its dialogue partners — South Korea, China, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.

Together with the RCEP, South Korea plans to eventually lift tariffs on 95.8 percent of the products being traded with Indonesia, while the ratio for Indonesia stands at 94.8 percent.

"We expect (the CEPA) will supplement multilateral systems, such as the RCEP, and further advance trade networks in Southeast Asia," the ministry said in a statement.

South Korea has been seeking to ink separate deals with Southeast Asian nations despite the existing FTA with ASEAN, as it is aimed at bolstering Seoul’s strategic and economic relations with emerging Asian partners, and reducing its heavy dependence on China and the United States.

The country implemented FTAs with Singapore in 2006 and Vietnam in 2015.

South Korea is negotiating with Malaysia, the Philippines and Cambodia as well.

 source: Korea Herald