Phnom Penh Post - 12 October 2020
Third round of South Korea FTA negotiations concludes
By Thou Vireak
Cambodia and South Korea have productively concluded the third round of negotiations on a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA), which is expected to boost bilateral trade and investment once it enters into force.
Ministry of Commerce spokesman Seang Thay told The Post on Sunday that the talks concluded on Thursday.
He said the two sides continued to negotiate for market access and the text of the agreement, which comprises chapters on economic cooperation, trade in goods, rules of origin, product-specific rules, customs procedures and trade facilitation, and legal and institutional issues.
“Negotiations on each chapter have yielded varying degrees of results, with the chapters on economic cooperation and product-specific rules being completely finalised,” Thay said.
Korean ambassador to Cambodia Park Heung-kyeong was quoted by state-run news agency Agence Kampuchea Presse (AKP) as saying on Tuesday that the FTA will shore up bilateral trade and encourage Koreans to invest more in the Kingdom.
He was speaking on the occasion of Gaecheonjeol – also known as the National Foundation Day of Korea – which celebrates legendary figure Dangun’s establishment of the first Korean state of Gojoseon in 2333 BC, according to the 13th-century chronicle Samguk Yusa.
Park said that since the re-establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries in 1997, bilateral trade volume has increased nearly 19-fold, from $54 million to $1 billion last year.
Korean companies are the second largest investors in Cambodia, with more than 200 firms actively operating in leading industries such as garments, agriculture and finance, he said.
“As a good mutually beneficial partner, Korea will continue to promote more trade and investment,” Park said.
During a closed-door meeting last week, Minister of Economy and Finance Aun Pornmoniroth said the two sides are committed to concluding FTA talks by the end of this year.
He said the deal aims to improve market access from both sides by reducing tariff and non-tariff barriers.
“Negotiations on the agreement also illustrate the government’s firm commitment in its efforts to continue its push for economic integration into the region and the world, even in the headwinds of the current situation.
“We will gain a richer and better export market for our products,” Pornmoniroth said.
During a visit to South Korea in February, Prime Minister Hun Sen said bilateral trade between Cambodia and South Korea reached over $1 billion last year, up more than 36 per cent from $756 million in 2018.