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FTA with Asean provides level playing field for South Korea

Bernama, Malaysia

FTA With Asean Provides Level Playing Field For South Korea

By Massita Ahmad

12 December 2005

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 12 (Bernama) — With the preliminary Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations with Asean, South Korea is expected to compete with China and Japan on a level playing field, a South Korean minister said Monday.

"It could be an opportunity for us to emerge as a pillar of economic integration in Asia, linking China, India and Southeast Asia," Commerce, Industry and Energy Minister Hee-Beom Lee told Bernama.

"South Korea is working to pursue the FTA with Asean," he said.

South Korea, China and Japan are in the process of expanding economic cooperation with Asean which has a population of 530 million and a gross domestic product of US$800 billion.

Lee said South Korea acknowledged China’s move to reduce tariffs from July this year and was planning to remove tariffs on most items in 2010 while Japan was pursuing FTA negotiations with Asean.

Lee said South Korea could export key parts and components in the field of the state-of-the-art technology to the Asean market while Asean countries could export resources and labour-intensive products.

"This will create a division of labour within the region and contribute to the advancement of Korea’s industrial structure," he said.

Lee is here as part of the South Korean delegation led by its President Roh Moo-Hyun to attend the 11th Asean Summit and its related summits.