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According to Yonhap News,
SEOUL, April 19 (Yonhap) -- South Korea said Sunday it will participate in a series of videoconferences this week in line with efforts to conclude a mega Asia-Pacific trade deal this year and revitalize global exchanges amid the new coronavirus pandemic.
During the meetings, which will be held on three different days this week, participants will exchange ideas to finalize the crucial Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.
It will become the first official gathering among the participants this year after ASEAN and its dialogue partners effectively reached an agreement on RCEP in November. They still await a final signing ceremony this year.
The RCEP will herald a mega economic bloc that accounts for half of the world's population and one-third of the total gross domestic product across the globe.
The participants earlier vowed to hold videoconferences frequently to speed up the efforts to conclude the agreement despite the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the ministry.
The latest meeting will focus on settling further details of the deal, while seeking to induce India to return to the table.
India, which did not join the preliminary agreement, has cited a significant gap over tariffs and other issues.
The RCEP is especially crucial for South Korea, whose outbound shipments have been losing ground amid the U.S.-China trade spat and a slump in the global chip industry.
On the back of South Korea's efforts to diversify its export portfolio, Southeast Asian countries accounted for more than 20 percent of outbound shipments last year for the first time, rising from 19.1 percent posted in 2018.
South Korea has been making efforts to revitalize its exports by urging trade partners to lift regulations for essential travel of business officials and maintain supply chains amid the pandemic.
The country's outbound shipments came to US$12.2 billion in the April 1-10 period, down 18.6 percent from the same period a year earlier, according to the data from the Korea Customs Service.
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Source: Yonhap News (Apr. 19, 2020)