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Biz bodies urge quick parliamentary approval of FTAs

Korea Herald, Seoul

Biz bodies urge quick parliamentary approval of FTAs

30 August 2015

More than 40 South Korean business bodies urged parliament Sunday to quickly approve free trade agreements with China, Vietnam and New Zealand to help prop up Seoul’s slumping exports.

South Korea’s exports, the country’s key growth engine, have fallen for the seventh consecutive month this year, buffeted by a global economic slowdown, falling international oil prices and currency fluctuations.

"With South Korea facing such unfavorable factors and its economic growth rate feared to drop below 3 percent this year, the early implementation of the free trade deals with China, Vietnam and New Zealand is urgently needed," said the 42 business organizations in an official letter to the National Assembly.

The business bodies include the Korea International Trade Association and the Federation of Korean Industries, the lobby for the country’s family-controlled conglomerates.

Once the FTAs with the three countries come into force within this year, South Korean companies will be able to benefit from reduced tariffs twice — on the implementation date and Jan. 1 next year, they said.

In particular, the early implementation of the free trade deal with China will likely provide South Korean companies with fresh momentum to tap deeper into the world’s No. 2 economy, the organizations added.

China is already the world’s single largest importer of South Korean products, accounting for over 25 percent of South Korea’s overall exports last year.

On June 1, South Korea and China officially signed their bilateral free trade deal, which calls for eliminating most tariffs between the Asian economic powerhouses over the next two decades. Days later, the government asked the parliament to ratify it.

In early May, South Korea and Vietnam signed a free trade agreement, and Seoul inked a similar deal with New Zealand in November last year. (Yonhap)