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Kaesong goods to be included in ASEAN FTA

Korea Times, 04-30-2006

Kaesong Goods to Be Included in ASEAN FTA

By Philip Dorsey Iglauer
Staff reporter

A diplomat of the Embassy of the Philippines, a key member of the 10-nation ASEAN, said on Sunday that the group’s free trade agreement (FTA) with South Korea would recognize products made in the Kaesong Industrial Complex, the inter-Korean project, as South Korean products.

``The question is to what extent products originating from Kaesong will be included,’’ Third Secretary and Vice Consul Arnel Talisayon at the Philippines Embassy, told The Korea Times, saying that the inclusion of Kaesong products would be considered as South Korean products. Kaesong is a North Korean town near its border with South Korea, with the industrial park being run by Korea’s conglomerate Hyundai Group.

``Suffice it to say that the economic ministries are hammering out several scenarios, including the issue of Kaesong products,’’ he added. The next ASEAN Economic Ministers Retreat will be in Boracay, Aklan Province in the Philippines from May13-16. A retreat implies an informal setup, hence a resort setting, Talisayon said.

His response is in stark contrast to the politically sensitive nature of Kaesong in concurrent negotiations for an FTA with the United States.

The U.S. objects to Kaesong-originated products being included in its FTA with Korea.

The Philippines chairs the 10-nation Asian regional group.

Meanwhile, Finance and Economy Minister Han Duck-soo told reporters that Korea plans to resume FTA talks with Japan after completing the one with the U.S.

``Ultimately, China will be part of our effort for economic consolidation,’’ he said in a seminar over the weekend. ``Once FTAs with these countries are completed, the global economy will use Korea as a key link to connect their national economies.’’

 source: Korea Times