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The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE) announced that Korea and China have made significant progress in their latest round of talks for a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA), nearly reaching an agreement on the level of market liberalization for their industrial products.
Korea and China held the sixth round of FTA negotiations this week in Busan. To promote a comprehensive and high-level FTA, as agreed upon during the Korea-China summit meeting last month, negotiations across different areas were held.
The two sides narrowed down differences in views over services, investment, rules of origins, customs clearance, trade remedy and intellectual property rights to reach or come close to reaching an agreement for the modality draft.
They also agreed to include competition, transparency, sanitary and phytosanitory measures, technical barriers to trade, e-commerce, environment and economic cooperation (cooperation for industry, agriculture and fisheries and government supply) in negotiations.
Woo Tae-hee, head of the Office of FTA Negotiations of MOTIE, noted that competition and transparency have not been issues in negotiations with other countries, but not for China. He added that including these issues in the negotiation agenda was a big step forward.
Korea and China took advantage of the momentum reached at the last summit meeting, but still faced difficulties in some areas.
In terms of investment, not much progress was made, as the individual in charge from China could not participate in the negotiations.
Woo said Korea and China agreed on basic principles but still have different views on details, adding that additional negotiations are necessary.
He added that they are working on narrowing the gap by suggesting alternatives. The negotiations were constructive and China also showed commitment, according to Woo.
Woo emphasized that Korea will not focus on moving on to the next level of negotiations but instead on ensuring protection for Korea’s sensitive areas.
The date for the 7th round of FTA negotiations, which will be held in China, is to be announced.
Source: Newsis (July 4, 2013)
** This article was translated from the Korean.