Yonhap | July 08, 2009
Further FTA talks start this week with Gulf states
Korea and a group of six oil-producing Gulf states, including Saudi Arabia, will hold a third round of free trade negotiations in Seoul this week, the trade ministry said yesterday.
During a three-day meeting that begins on Wednesday, negotiators from both sides will hold a series of meetings on tariff concessions and other issues, according to the ministry.
In a March meeting, the two sides agreed to seal a free trade pact by the end of 2009. The negotiations are the latest in a series of moves by Korea to forge similar deals with major economic blocs. The six nations are the members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), comprising Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman and Kuwait. The GCC was established in 1981, and its member states hold around 40 percent of the world’s oil reserves.
The GCC was Korea’s second-largest trading partner after China in 2008, with two-way trade reaching $101 billion. Korea currently has free trade pacts with Chile, Singapore and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), comprising Switzerland, Norway, Ireland and Liechtenstein.
A free trade pact between Korea and the United States was signed in 2007 but still awaits ratification in the legislatures of both countries.
Korea also has a free trade agreement with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations that covers manufactured goods and agricultural products.