South Korea, EU to start FTA talks in early May, official says
SEOUL, April 18 (Yonhap) — South Korea and the European Union will start discussions in early May on forging a free trade agreement (FTA), Seoul’s senior trade official said Wednesday.
"The two sides are now taking their final steps...and I think talks will begin during the first 10 days of next month," Kim Han-soo, head of free trade bureau at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, said on a KBS radio program.
South Korea will hold a meeting of economy-related ministers next week to decide whether to launch the negotiations with the EU, Kim said.
South Korea, Asia’s third-largest economy, and the 27-nation economic bloc have been in preliminary talks to launch the formal negotiations for about a year.
The talks with the EU is South Korea’s latest push to reach bilateral free trade accords.
Early this month, South Korea and the United States reached a similar agreement after 10 months of tough negotiations. The deal still has to be ratified by the South Korean National Assembly and U.S. Congress.
Analysts say the free trade deal with the U.S. will give South Korea leverage in negotiating with the EU.