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South Korea considering FTA with Malaysia

Bernama | 30 Oct 2013

South Korea considering FTA with Malaysia

From Zarul Effendi Razali

SEOUL, Oct 30 (Bernama) — South Korea is considering a free trade agreement (FTA) partnership with Malaysia in order to spur its bilateral relations with the country.

Young-Moo Kim, Director General for FTA Negotiation of South Korean’s Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE), said the initial objective of the consideration was for the South Korean government to further enhance the existing government-to-government bilateral relations between both countries.

"Common sense tells me that Malaysia has some strong industries in certain areas such as bio, services, automotive, steel and chemicals which makes Malaysia an ideal partner for Korean industry.

"We don’t really need to look for new sectors to be partners in. Indeed, we just need to expand current existing sectors of our bilateral trade," he told Bernama on the sidelines of the Foreign Investment Week 2013 here Wednesday.

He said the joint study between both countries on the possibility of an FTA had just been completed last year and currently the South Korean government is waiting to see whether it is a good idea to launch the bilateral trade on a one-on-one basis.

"Malaysia is heavily occupied with the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations at the moment, besides other things that are going on. We (Korea) also have our own negotiation going on there (TPP).

"Right now we are enjoying partial benefit from Korean-Asean partnership, although it’s not sufficient. There is room to explore further if we want to have an FTA (with Malaysia), but for now, due to lack of resources and other priorities, we need to find the right time," he added.

Meanwhile, MOTIE Director General for Cross-Border Investment Policy Chang-Kyu Kim is hoping that Korea and Malaysia could further enhance bilateral relations in petroleum, automotive and petrochemical industries.

"Malaysia is better at providing raw materials and we are more at the developing the industry. They (Malaysia) have Petronas, which is very developed globally while we have a very good automotive and petrochemical industry.

"So, we could have good projects between the Korean petrochemical industry and Malaysian petroleum industry," he said.

At the initial stage, Kim said the Korean government is currently exploring the possibility of encouraging the relevant industries and companies in Malaysia to have bilateral projects in the petroleum and petrochemical industries.

"We have arranged two plus two meetings between the Korean government and Malaysian private sector and the Malaysian government and Korean private sector, whereby we can raise the issue of that kind of projects," he added.

He said that the meeting is still in the midst and he hoped that the projects could materialise in the future.

The Foreign Investment Week 2013 is jointly organised by Invest Korea and Korean Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA) and hosted by MOTIE.

The three-day summit is an annual event organised by the Korean government to attract foreign companies and promote certain industries.

The key industries focused during the summit are high-tech sector (semiconductors and displays), logistics, private equity, venture capital and mergers and acquisitions.

 source: Bernama