Korean Times, 2 April 2006
Korea Wants FTA With Latin America
By Yoon Ja-young
South Korea hopes to establish free trade agreements (FTAs) with other Latin American and Caribbean countries following one with Chile, Vice Finance and Economy Minister Kwon Tae-shin said Sunday.
``Korea intends to support economic cooperation with Latin and Caribbean countries by building on its FTA with Chile and entering FTA negotiations with other countries in the region as well,’’ Kwon said in a speech at the Latin America Regional Briefing hosted by the Institute of International Finance (IIF) in Brazil. The ministry distributed a copy of Kwon’s speech in Seoul.
Korea signed its first FTA with Chile in 2004, overcoming strong opposition by farmers. The nation is also scheduled to open talks with the United States for the establishment of an FTA. A Korea-U.S. FTA is expected to take about one year to complete.
``After the FTA went into effect, trading volume between the two nations increased by 55 percent in the first year,’’ Kwon said. ``This clearly demonstrates the great benefit of free trade to both countries,’’ Kwon said.
Kwon was in Brazil to attend a three-day annual meeting of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) starting Tuesday.
South Korea became the 47th member of the IDB last year and its second Asian member after Japan. The IDB, since its founding in 1959, is the main source of multilateral financing for Latin America and the Caribbean.
``With our accession to the IDB, we expect further progress in our cooperation and exchange programs with Latin America,’’ he said in his speech, adding that South Korea created a $140 million fund with the IDB and Inter-American Investment.
He said South Korea contributed $67 million in economic development and cooperation funds to the region over the last three years and is expected to increase that amount to $200 million by 2009.