Monday September 27, 10:50 AM Asia Pulse
Simultaneous Pursuit Of Trade Pacts More Desirable: S. Korean FM
NEW YORK, Sept 27 Asia Pulse - Visiting South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon said on Friday it is "more desirable" to seek free trade agreements (FTAs) with many countries at the same time than to pursue bilateral agreements one at a time.
Meeting with South Korean news correspondents in the United States, the foreign minister said conflicts are bound to surface in bilateral discussions for trade agreements, but argued such conflicts can be submerged by conducting simultaneous consultations with a number of countries.
"As in the case of country’s FTA consultations with Chile, there is always bound to be an issue or area of problems in consultations with a single country. Therefore, (South Korea) will face enormous problems if it tries to carry out separate consultations with each of the countries," Ban claimed.
Former South Korean President Kim Dae-jung signed a free trade agreement with his Chilean counterpart Ricardo Lagos in February last year.
The bilateral pact, however, did not take effect until April this year, as the National Assembly failed to endorse the agreement because of strong opposition from the nation’s farmers, who feared a possible flood of cheap Chilean agricultural products into the local market.
When asked which countries were in consultation with South Korea for a possible free trade pact, the minister said the country is in "official discussions with Japan and Singapore," while also working very closely with Mexico, Canada, India and a group of Asian countries to carry out joint research on possible agreements.
Ban also said both the United States and South Korea understand the need for their own free trade agreement, but that actual discussions to that end will not take place until South Korea concludes its agreements with Japan and Singapore.
"I believe it would be in the right order (for South Korea) to consider an FTA (with the U.S.) after closely monitoring the outcome of its consultations with Japan and Singapore," he said.
The top South Korean diplomat is visiting the United States to take part in the United Nation’s General Assembly in New York.
Ban’s U.S. trip ends on Sunday, after which he will head for Canada for a three-day visit before returning to South Korea.