S Korea, Japan fail to agree on resuming free trade negotiations

Xinhua 2009-12-22

S Korea, Japan fail to agree on resuming free trade negotiations

SEOUL, Dec. 22 (Xinhua) — South Korea and Japan failed to pin down the exact date to resume bilateral free trade negotiations during the latest talks, despite of mutual understanding in the need for further discussions, South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency reported, quoting government officials.

According to the trade ministry, South Korea and Japan held working-level bilateral free trade talks here on Monday to review on resuming and spurring the negotiation process.

During the talks, the fourth round since June 2008 when the two sides resumed discussions, both sides agreed that more efforts are needed to achieve the circumstances necessary to resume South Korea-Japan FTA negotiations, the ministry said.

The two countries, however, had a dispute over the issue of whether to open Tokyo’s market to agricultural and fisheries goods, according to Yonhap.

While the South Korean side requested their counterparts to compromise on the issue, Japanese negotiators said it should be dealt when formal negotiations begin, Yonhap said, quoting its source.

Originally launched in December 2003, bilateral free trade talks were continued to November 2004 in six rounds, but later were deadlocked for over four years on disputes over whether to open agriculture and fisheries markets in Japan.

Currently, South Korea has free trade agreements with Chile, Singapore and the European Free Trade Association, as well as a similar pact with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

Reaching a free trade deal with the European Union recently, South Korea also wrapped up its free trade talks with India, settling the so-called comprehensive economic partnership agreement (CEPA) in August.

With respect to the free trade deal with the United States, signed in June 2007, both countries are waiting for legislative approval.

South Korea is also seeking similar trade deals with Australia, Canada, and Mexico.

source: Xinhua