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According to Yonhap News,
(SEOUL=Yonhap News) South Korea officially announced the start of free trade talks with Malaysia on Thursday, in the latest effort to diversify its exports portfolio and expand its presence in the Southeast Asian market.
South Korea's Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee held a video conference with her Malaysian counterpart, Darell Leiking, and agreed to seek a free trade deal with the goal of completing negotiations in time for Seoul's summit with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in November this year.
The first round of their official negotiations will be held in Kuala Lumpur on July 11.
The announcement came after the leaders of South Korea and Malaysia held a summit in March and agreed to launch negotiations toward a bilateral free trade agreement and push for their conclusion before the year's end.
While South Korea clinched a free trade agreement with ASEAN in 2007, Seoul has been making efforts to sign separate free trade deals with individual members of the regional bloc.
Malaysia is the fourth-largest trading partner of South Korea among Southeast Asian nations. Trade between the two countries reached US$19.2 billion last year, according to the ministry.
Seoul, which earlier clinched bilateral FTAs with Vietnam and Singapore, is also in talks with Indonesia and the Philippines. If all the negotiations underway are successful, South Korea will have free trade deals with all five of its top ASEAN trading partners.
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Source: Yonhap News (June 27, 2019)