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S. Korea to push for conclusion of RCEP this year despite pandemic

According to Yonhap News,

SEOUL, June 9 (Yonhap) -- South Korea said Tuesday it will spare no efforts to conclude a mega Asia-Pacific trade pact by the end of this year in line with efforts to revitalize an extended slump in its exports amid the new coronavirus pandemic.

South Korea plans to take part in an inter-sessional virtual meeting of other participants of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) from Wednesday to Thursday to flesh out more details, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Energy.

"The RCEP is expected to play a key role in rekindling trade and investment activities of the bloc, which has been hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic," the ministry said in a statement.

The deal will also help members to brace for changes in the global value chain in the post-pandemic era, the ministry said, highlighting South Korea will spare no efforts to have the agreement concluded this year.

ASEAN and its dialogue partners -- South Korea, China, Japan, Australia and New Zealand -- effectively reached an agreement on RCEP in November, with the goal of signing the pact within this year.

The agreement came after the participating nations launched their talks in 2013 on a deal that would create a mega economic bloc accounting for one-third of the world's gross domestic product.

The participation of India, which did not join last year's agreement, will be decided before the deal's formal signing slated for 2020. The issue will also be discussed during this week's meeting.

India has expressed concerns over the influx of more price-competitive Chinese products into its market.

South Korea, whose economy depends heavily on exports, has been emphasizing the importance of a global coalition to cope with economic uncertainties stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.

In May, South Korea also agreed with several countries, including Singapore, Canada, and Australia, to ease cross-border travel regulations for essential business officials and maintain the global supply chain without undermining the global efforts to tackle the new coronavirus.

Nevertheless, the country's exports are not likely to rebound for the time being, unless its major trade partners bring the pandemic under control and an effective vaccine is developed.

South Korea's exports dropped for the third consecutive month in May, slipping 23.7 percent, due to the growing economic fallout from the pandemic that has disrupted the global supply chain.

In the face of the pandemic, the country saw its exports drop 1.4 percent on-year in March, followed by a whopping 25.1 drop in April.

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Source: Yonhap News (Jun. 9 , 2020)

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