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South Korea-Japan to Sign Free Trade Agreement by 2005

Posted October. 12, 2003 22:35,   


President Roh Moo-hyun and Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi will hold an exclusive bilateral meeting during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit on October 20-21 in Bangkok, Thailand, on the issue of launching negotiations for the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) before 2005, according to a report on October 12.

In addition, President Roh will meet Singapore Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong on October 23 after the APEC summit, in anticipation of signing an FTA between South Korea and Singapore by 2005.

“South Korea and Japan are expecting to jointly declare launch of a negotiation team with governmental unit-working levels in 2003,” Kwon O-Kyu, Presidential Secretary for Economic Affairs, said yesterday in a press conference. “If the negotiation starts within this year, we will be able to talk further in a view to signing an FTA by 2005.”

Kwon added, “According to the forecast, FTA agreement will impact the nation’s small and medium enterprises producing materials of parts or consumer industries for a large influx from Japan, whereas the agreement will benefit Korean agricultures and in the long-term, will give an access to the United States and other nations to invest more to our country.”

The Korean government is planning to take this opportunity to cover issues in general, not only on the abolition of tariffs, but also on tariff-free measures, investment cooperation, exchange of technologies, and the free service market.

The government’s hasty step to sign an FTA with Japan implies a countermeasure against China who recently proposed a trilateral agreement between Korea, Japan and China, but whose agricultural industry is apparently more competitive than that of the other two countries.

Meanwhile, Roh is to depart for the 11th APEC summit on October 19, and during the summit, he is supposed to meet five leaders of other nations separately, including China, Japan, Russia, Mexico and the U.S. President George W. Bush.

President Roh will then make a national visit to Singapore on October 22-24 and meet Singapore President S.R. Nathan.

Jeong-Hun Kim jnghn@donga.com