Korea, China set to conclude FTA discussions
Negotiations expected to wrap before leaders talk at APEC summit
ficial at Korea’s Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy. They moved on to discussions concerning commercial goods on Friday.
During the two-day talks, both sides agreed to make some concessions: Korea agreed to reduce the number of agricultural items it wanted to protect from tariffs over a certain period, and China also conceded to reduce the number of its commercial goods that would receive certain protections.
On Saturday, China reneged, deciding to review agricultural conditions and effectively halting talks.
In yesterday’s discussions, the two sides tried again to narrow the differences on their agricultural and fisheries markets. Korea requested that China recognize Korean-made products that are assembled with parts or materials made in China as Korean exports.
“It is hard to project the result at the moment,” Park Won-joo, a spokesman for the Trade Ministry, said yesterday in a telephone interview with the Korea JoongAng Daily. “Even if today’s session is well concluded, it is highly likely that the result will be announced [today] by the Blue House.”
China is currently both the largest export and import market for Korea. Last year, Korea exported $141.3 billion worth of goods to China, which accounted for as much as 26 percent of its total export volume, according to data from the Korea International Trade Association. Korea’s exports to the United States stood at $60.1 billion last year, while those to the European Union posted $47.3 billion.
The country imported $80.8 billion won worth Chinese goods, outstripping those of other countries.
If the FTA with China takes effect, about 90 percent of all Korean and Chinese goods currently being traded will be free of tariffs immediately or within 20 years. According to forecasts by the Ministry of Strategy and Finance, the Korea-China FTA is projected to help Korea’s gross domestic product grow by 0.95 percent, to 1.25 percent in the next five years. It will also help in creating as many as 240,000 new jobs.