Yonhap | 7 December 2009
S. Korea, Colombia open 1st round of free trade talks
SEOUL, Dec. 7 (Yonhap) — Trade officials from South Korea and Colombia kicked off their first round of negotiations here Monday aimed at forging a free trade agreement (FTA) to boost the flow of goods and investment.
During their talks, set to run through Wednesday, the two will discuss a variety of issues such as tariff concessions, according to Seoul’s trade ministry.
Their bilateral trade reached US$1.23 billion in 2008, with South Korea’s exports to the South American country reaching $1.09 billion, according to the ministry.
South Korea’s main export items include cars and electronic goods, and t imports coffee and resources such as coal and nickel from Colombia.
Seoul is seeking to intensify economic cooperation with Latin American countries in a bid to diversify its trading partners and encourage its firms to advance into the region’s resource-rich markets. South Korea has an FTA with Chile that took effect in April 2004, and is also in free trade negotiations with Mexico and Peru.
South Korea’s trade and investment with Latin America has tripled over the past five years, according to the trade ministry.
Colombia has free trade pacts with the United States, Canada and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), comprising Switzerland, Norway, Ireland and Liechtenstein.
South Korea also has free trade pacts with Singapore, the EFTA and the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations. A free trade pact between Korea and the United States was signed in 2007 but still awaits ratification by the legislatures of both countries.
In October, South Korea initialed a similar trade pact with the European Union.