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Korea, China Agree to Speed Up Free Trade Talks
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South Korea and China have agreed to speed up their ongoing free trade talks as part of efforts to increase economic cooperation between the neighboring countries, the finance ministry said Saturday.

Both also agreed to intensify cooperation in currency polices, while seeking to increase settlements by using the won and the yuan, according to the ministry.

The agreements were made at a meeting Thursday between key economic policymakers of the two countries in Beijing, the ministry said. The meeting was the 11th of its kind since they were upgraded to ministerial gatherings in 1999.

Finance Minister Bahk Jae-wan and other Korean officials attended with Chinese counterparts led by Zhang Ping, head of the National Development and Reform Commission.

During the meeting, the ministry said that Bahk emphasized the importance of accelerating FTA talks between the countries and beefing up cooperation in polices related to currency and won-yuan settlement.

He also underlined the need to find a new breakthrough for Korea and China, both of whom are being affected by the eurozone fiscal problems, according to the ministry. Zhang Ping of China "actively" agreed with Bahk, it added.

In early May, the two countries announced the launch of formal free trade negotiations, saying they expected the talks to take two years.

At the latest meeting in August, South Korea and China made progress in the free trade talks, with both countries agreeing on removing tariffs on products within 10 years after the implementation of a free trade accord.

China is South Korea's largest trading partner, with bilateral trade expected to reach $300 billion by 2015.

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Source: Yonhap News (Sep. 16, 2012)

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