Xinhua | 18 Feb 2009
S Korea, EU free trade talks delayed
SEOUL, Feb. 18 (Xinhua) — South Korea and the European Union (EU) agreed to delay their upcoming free trade talks by two to three weeks, South Korean Trade Minister Kim Jong-hoon said Wednesday.
South Korea and the EU agreed last month to hold an eighth round of negotiations in Seoul in the first week of March.
Both sides predicted it to be the last before they come up to an agreement.
"The EU asked us to postpone the negotiations by two to three weeks," the minister said.
Despite the delay, there is no change in both sides’ intentions on finalizing the deal during the next month’s talks, he added.
South Korea and the EU reported to have achieved ’significant’ progress in their free trade negotiations during a minister-level meeting in Seoul last month.
The two parties have held seven rounds of talks since South Korea’s signing a free trade agreement with the United States in 2007.
The EU currently stands as South Korea’s second-largest trading partner after China.
The trade amount between the two parties marked 93.07 billion U.S. dollars in 2007, and a 40 percent increase in trade is expected to be achieved once an FTA is reached, according to Seoul’s Yonhap News Agency.
Currently, South Korea has settled on FTAs with Chile, Singapore and the European Free Trade Association, as well as a partial pact with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
Seoul is also in process of negotiating with Canada, India and Mexico.