Korean firms urge early conclusion of FTA with China
By Kim Young-gyo
22 November 2012
HONG KONG, Nov. 23 (Yonhap) — South Korean firms operating in China have called on Beijing to conclude a free trade deal with South Korea as soon as possible to help create an integrated economy in the region, officials said Friday.
In a meeting with Wang Chao, the vice minister of the Chinese Commerce Ministry, late Thursday, representatives of the South Korean companies said that an advanced form of a free trade agreement (FTA) must be struck quickly between the two neighboring countries, according to the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry in China.
South Korea and China should agree on removing tariffs on products, opening up the service industries and protecting the intellectual properties before the two sides implement their free trade accord, they urged.
In early May, the two countries announced the launch of formal free trade negotiations, expecting the talks to take two years.
China is the largest buyer of South Korean-made goods and has contributed to Seoul’s sizable trade surplus in recent years, while South Korea is China’s third-largest trading partner after the United States and Japan.
Bilateral trade reached US$188.4 billion last year. Both countries are expecting the volume to top $300 billion in 2015.
Meanwhile, Wang noted that the Chinese government has been actively promoting the FTA negotiations between the two nations, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce said.
He also said the recent declaration of the trilateral FTA negotiations among South Korea, China and Japan will help create more favorable conditions for economic and trade cooperation between South Korea and China.
South Korea, China and Japan declared on Tuesday the start of free trade talks aimed at boosting their trade despite territorial tension in the Northeast Asian region. They said they will kick off negotiations over the three-way free trade deal next year.
The vice minister stressed that China will continue to broaden the field of attracting foreign investment and to further improve the investment environment.
"The Chinese government is willing to create a favorable environment for foreign enterprises, including Korean companies, and provide quality service to ensure the foreign investors’ confidence in China," Wang said, according to the statement on the official Web site.
Wang, at the same time, urged South Korean companies to strengthen cooperation with Chinese enterprises in high-end manufacturing and green low-carbon industries and to increase investment in the modern service industry field.
He also proposed South Korean firms should seize business opportunities in developing China’s regional economy by increasing investment in the country’s less developed central and western regions, and expand cooperation actively with Chinese enterprises going overseas.