Korea Herald - 03 September 2019
S. Korea, Malaysia to hold 3rd round of FTA talks this week
South Korea will hold a third round of free trade talks with Malaysia this week with the aim of striking a trade deal before November, Seoul’s trade ministry said Tuesday.
The two countries, which have held two rounds of talks since July, will discuss details of the bilateral free trade agreement from Wednesday to Friday in Seoul, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Energy.
Seoul and Kuala Lumpur will focus on sharing ideas for expanding their bilateral economic ties, along with setting details on the scope of products to be included in the deal.
South Korea already has a free trade agreement with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), but the country is seeking to broaden economic ties with individual members through separate free trade deals.
Malaysia is South Korea’s fourth-largest trading partner in Southeast Asia — their trading volume reached $19.2 billion in 2018.
Asia’s No. 4 economy has been making efforts to diversify its trading portfolio, especially amid the growing trade feud between the United States and China. The top two trading partners accounted for around 40 percent of South Korea’s annual outbound shipments in 2018.
The country’s exports plunged 13.6 percent in August from a year earlier, extending their on-year fall to a ninth consecutive month. Outbound shipments came to $44.2 billion last month, compared with the $51 billion tallied a year earlier, according to data compiled by the trade ministry.
In line with efforts to diversify its trading partners, South Korea is currently in talks with the Philippines and Indonesia as well. Seoul aims to strike the three deals by November, when South Korea will hold a summit with the ASEAN countries in its southern port city of Busan.
If all talks under way are successful, South Korea will have FTA deals with all of its top five trading partners in Southeast Asia, including Vietnam and Singapore.