Korea Times | 23 May 2016
S. Korea to hold new round of talks for FTA with Central America
South Korea will hold a fresh round of negotiations for a free trade agreement (FTA) with six Central American countries this week, the trade ministry said Monday.
The talks, fourth of their kind, will be held in Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras, from Monday through Friday, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.
The FTA negotiations were launched in September 2015 after the two sides noted a need for a comprehensive free trade pact that will promote trade in goods and services while also boosting their cross-border investment and cooperation.
At this week’s talks, the countries will discuss all major elements of the proposed FTA, including the rules of origin, intellectual property rights and ways to remove technical barriers to trade, the ministry said in a press release.
South Korea especially seeks to gain greater access for its automobile and textile industries to the Central American market, a ministry official noted.
The six Central American countries include Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Panama. They, along with Honduras, belong to a regional economic bloc known as SIECA, and make up the fifth-largest market in Central America.
"We will work to reverse the downward trend in shipments to and from the Central American region through the Korea-Central America FTA that will also boost our firms’ investment and exports to the region," South Korea’s top FTA negotiator Yeo Han-koo said.
In 2015, trade volume between the six Central American states and Asia’s fourth-largest economy came to $4.1 billion.