AFP | 03 November 2006
South Korea seeks free trade talks with EU, China next year: president
SEOUL : South Korea wants to open free trade talks with the European Union and China as soon as next year, President Roh Moo-Hyun said.
At a meeting with foreign businessmen at the Korea Trade Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA), Roh said his country is determined simultaneously to push for a number of free trade agreements (FTA).
"We aim to open FTA negotiations with the EU next year ... We’ll also make all the preparations so that we may start FTA talks with China next year or later," he said.
State-run KOTRA has said a free trade agreement with the European Union would bring Seoul greater benefits than a similar trade pact with the United States now being negotiated.
Exports to Europe of automobiles, electronic goods and computer-related products in particular will increase sharply if a free trade deal is concluded, it said in a research report published in June.
The Korea Institute for International Economic Policy says an FTA with the EU would boost South Korea’s gross domestic product by two to three percentage points.
It would also increase South Korea’s exports to the EU by US$11 billion and imports from there by US$8.2 billion.
South Korea’s shipments to the EU stood at US$43.7 billion last year, while imports reached US$27.3 billion.
South Korea, which has completed FTAs with Chile and Singapore, has been in tough talks with the United States on a deal which would be the largest for the US since the North American Free Trade Agreement.
The two sides took a "big step forward" in talks that ended in the southern island of Jeju last month but lengthy negotiations will still continue into next year, a top US official said.
South Korea is also studying the possibility of similar agreements with Japan, Canada, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, India and Mexico.