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S. Korea, China make headway in FTA talks

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Women farmers in Korea protest against the government’s talks with China on 23 Aug 2012 (Photo REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji)

Yonhap News, Korea

S. Korea, China make headway in FTA talks

27 August 2012

SEOUL (Yonhap) — South Korea and China have made progress in their free trade talks with both countries agreeing on removing tariffs on products within 10 years after the implementation of their free trade accord, Seoul’s trade ministry said Monday.

During the three-day meeting that ended Friday in Weihai, a city in China’s eastern Shandong Province, both sides also agreed to remove tariffs on so-called sensitive products in 10 years after the deal takes effect, according to the ministry.

But the two countries will hold more talks later over what products are classified as sensitive items, it said.

In early May, the two countries announced the launch of formal free trade negotiations, expecting the talks to take two years.

The neighboring countries earlier agreed that the talks on a free trade deal will proceed in two phases, with the handling of critical items and the scope of the trade agreement to be primarily discussed first.

Agriculture and fisheries are considered to be the most sensitive sectors for South Korea, while China categorizes its manufacturing industries, which include the automobile, machinery and oil sectors, as sensitive.

China is South Korea’s largest trading partner, with bilateral trade expected to reach US$300 billion by 2015.

Since 2008, South Korea and China have held a series of joint feasibility studies on a possible free trade deal and exchanged views on sensitive issues.

Meanwhile, the ministry said South Korea, China and Japan may declare the launch of three-way free trade talks in November this year, and may embark on formal negotiations early next year.

In June this year, the three nations held a similar meeting to discuss details and preparation for the launch of the trilateral free trade talks.

Free trade talks between Seoul and Tokyo have been stalled since late 2004, mainly because of Japan’s reluctance to lower tariffs on agricultural goods.

In May this year, the three nations signed a three-way accord aimed at promoting corporate direct investment.


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