S. Korea, Philippines to hold 4th round of FTA talks this week

September 9, 2019

 South Korea’s trade ministry said Monday it plans to hold a fourth round of free-trade negotiations with the Philippines this week with the goal of striking the deal in November.

During the four-day talks in Cebu, the Philippines, that ends Friday, the two will center on making concessions in details of the pact, along with seeking ways to expand bilateral economic and technology ties, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.

Seoul and Manila launched their free trade negotiations in June, with the aim of completing the deal in tune with South Korea’s summit with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) slated for November.

Asia’s No. 4 economy already holds a FTA with the ASEAN, but it is seeking to clinch individual agreements as well to expand its economic ties with Southeast Asia and ease its trade dependency on the United States and China.

Such efforts especially became crucial due to the growing protectionism around the globe, highlighted by the protracted trade feud between Washington and Beijing, which accounts for around 40 percent of Seoul’s annual exports.

South Korea’s exports to the Philippines reached US$12 billion in 2018, up 13.6 percent from a year earlier. Semiconductors are the most traded products between the two countries, with South Korea also shipping petrochemical products to the Philippines.

Seoul is currently working to clinch FTAs with Indonesia and Malaysia as well. If all the negotiations under way are successful, South Korea will have free trade deals with all five of its top ASEAN trading partners.

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