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S. Korea to decide on joining CPTPP this year

According to Yonhap News,

(SEOUL=Yonhap News) South Korea will decide whether to join a fledgling Pacific trade pact within this year after looking into its impact on the national economy and consulting with member states, Seoul's trade ministry said Thursday.

A year after U.S. President Donald Trump abandoned the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the 11 remaining states on Thursday signed a revamped deal, the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), in Chile.

The agreement aimed at slashing tariffs on goods will come into force after it is fully ratified by six of the 11 members, which include Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

The countries represent 13.5 percent of global gross domestic product, a total of $10 trillion.

The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said the new pact would have a very limited impact on the national economy in the short term considering the schedule of its implementation and that the ministry will make a decision on whether to join the pact.

"South Korea has already struck bilateral trade agreements with nine nations among the 11 member states, with the exception of Japan and Mexico," the ministry said in a release. "Even if CPTPP takes effect, its negative effect on the South Korean economy would be very limited."

South Korea has been in preliminary negotiations to participate as an associate member in the Pacific Alliance trade bloc comprised of Mexico, Chile, Peru and Colombia.

For Seoul, an associate membership in the alliance could be similar in effect to a trade pact with Mexico.

South Korea has already signed FTAs with Chile, Peru and Colombia but has yet to do the same with Mexico, which is the largest economy in the alliance.

Seoul will, moreover, open talks on forging a trade pact with Mercosur, South America's leading trading bloc composed of Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay, in the first half of this year.

The bloc's combined market encompasses more than 290 million people and accounts for $2.7 trillion or more than three-quarters of the economic activity on the southern continent, according to the ministry data.

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Source: Yonhap News (Mar. 8, 2018)

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