Arirang News | 17 Juy 2009
Korea Looks to FTA with Arab States
After concluding free trade talks with the European Union, Korea is eyeing the Gulf Cooperation Council as its next FTA partner. Korea and the GCC initiated free trade talks in July 2008.
Seoul expects to strike a deal by the end of this year, and the two sides held their third round of talks in Seoul just last week.
The GCC, established in 1981, comprises Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Oman and Qatar. As of 2008, it was the world’s 13th largest economic bloc and Korea’s second largest trading partner after China with trade amounting to over US$100 billion.
The council is Korea’s number one source of oil with 74 percent of Korea’s crude oil being imported from the six countries. Korea’s yearly exports to the GCC rose by around 2.5 times from 2005 to 2008, mainly manufactured goods such as cars and ships, which makes the GCC Korea’s sixth largest export destination.
The FTA is expected to help Korea’s plant construction exports to the Middle East, which is becoming the country’s next money-making industry after shipbuilding.
Seoul is in free trade negotiations with a dozen countries with four FTAs with 15 countries in force and three FTAs with 29 countries, including the EU, awaiting ratification.