Korea, China set to con­clude FTA dis­cus­sions

Ne­go­ti­a­tions ex­pected to wrap be­fore lead­ers talk at APEC sum­mit

JoongAng Daily - - Front Page - BY SONG SU-HYUN ssh@joongang.co.kr

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.

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