South Korea and China struck a free trade agreement (FTA) today, officials said. The move could further boost Seoul’s economic ties with the world’s second-largest economy.
South Korean President Park Geun-hye and her Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, made the announcement during their meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing said Ahn Chong-bum, presidential secretary for economic affairs.
Ahn said Park and Xi also observed the signing of agreed-upon minutes on the deal. It came on the sidelines of an annual summit of Asia-Pacific leaders in the Chinese capital.
Park expressed hope that the two countries could quickly work out details and swiftly push for procedures to sign the deal, allowing it to take effect.
Xi also hailed the deal and called for consistent and in-depth development in bilateral exchange and cooperation.
The two countries do not have any more pending issues over the deal that was reached two and a half years after they launched negotiations.
Still, the two sides need to go through technical consultations in coming weeks to work out the wording of the deal, according to Kim Young-moo, a senior South Korean negotiator. They also need to hold a legal review before formally signing a deal on the FTA early next year, Kim said.
Meanwhile, local civic groups urged the government today to scrap a free trade deal with China, saying it will destroy the nation’s agriculture sector and small and mid-sized businesses.
A coalition of groups opposed to the deal said at a press conference in Seoul that the deal is expected to completely ruin the local agricultural industry. They claim the industry is already overwhelmed by a flood of Chinese farm produce.
They added that the agreement will also deal a harsh blow to small and medium enterprises by leading to a surge in imports of cheap Chinese products. The coalition added that Seoul should review the FTA.
Park Seok-un, who represents the coalition, condemned South Korea for failing to listen to its people
He accused the Korean government of throwing away economic sovereignty by pushing for the deal without winning public consent and providing countermeasures.
Source: Busan eFM News
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