Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Korea Looks to China and EU for More FTAs

Chosun Ilbo

With the free trade agreement (FTA) talks between Korea and the U.S. winding down, the government is now promoting FTA talks with China and the European Union (EU). The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MOFAT) announced Monday that it will hold a conference for joint research among business people, government officials and scholars on an FTA between Korea and China.
An official from MOFAT said the joint research could be seen as a step leading to FTA discussions since such research has in the past been connected to FTA negotiations. The conference would cover basic work to promote an FTA between the two countries such as detailed rules regulating joint research operations and other items to include.

MOFAT also announced that it will hold the first round of FTA talks with the EU in May. Kim Han-soo, the director of the free trade bureau at MOFAT, will lead the Korean side and Garcia Bercero, the director of trade relations with Southeast Asia and directorate general for trade of the European Commission, will lead the EU side.

The talks are expected to progress quickly since working-level issues such as the scope of the discussions and the composition of negotiation groups have already been worked out.

An official with MOFAT said that successful FTAs with important regions will build balanced trade relations and enhance the stability of the Korean economy. The official said that Chile is currently the only country in the world that has agreed on or is promoting FTAs with the U.S., China and the EU.

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SeanHayes@ipglegal.com