S Korea hopes to settle free trade deals with Peru, GCC in 2010

13:36, January 04, 2010      

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South Korea is seeking wrapping up free trade negotiations with Peru and six Gulf states, settling the deals within the year, local media reported Monday, quoting the trade minister.

According to South Korea's Yonhap News Agency, South Korean Trade Minister Kim Jong-hoon said the country will be able to conclude a free trade deal with Peru in 2010, while expecting to reach agreements with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) on key issues within the year.

"Peru may be this year's first country that South Korea seals a free trade deal with," Kim said, highlighting that agricultural issues, unlike trade deals the country is seeking with other countries, do not stand in the way.

According to the country's trade ministry, South Korea's trade with Chile totaled to 1.62 billion U.S. dollars in 2008, while bilateral trade between the country and the GCC reached 101 billion U.S. dollars.

The GCC stood as South Korea's second-largest trading partner after China in 2008.

South Korea thus far has held four rounds of free trade negotiations with Peru and three rounds with the GCC, which is composed of six Gulf nations including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman and Kuwait.

As of end-2009, South Korea has sealed free trade pacts with Chile, Singapore and the European Free Trade Association, as well as similar deals with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and India.

Also, in November, South Korea initialed a free trade agreement with the European Union.

A free trade pact between South Korea and the United States was signed in 2007, but has been awaiting ratification in the legislatures of both countries.

Source: Xinhua
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