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FTA negotiations launched

By Li Jiabao (China Daily)

13:17, May 03, 2012

China and South Korea jointly announced the start of bilateral free trade agreement negotiations on Wednesday, aiming to expand trade in goods and services and investment cooperation.

"The first round of negotiations will take place later this month ... and I hope the negotiations can be finished within two years," Chinese Minister of Commerce Chen Deming told a news briefing in Beijing.

"After seven years of preparation, the launch of the FTA negotiations is a turning point to take bilateral cooperation to a higher level.

"We hope the accord will also serve as a starting point for the economic integration of East Asia," said South Korean Trade Minister Bark Tae-ho.

Chen also said the two countries complement each other in many ways and that offers broad prospects for cooperation.

He said the start of the FTA negotiations will not only benefit people in both countries but also advance the economic integration of East Asia amid rising protectionism and a slow global economic recovery.

"China's fast economic development and the efforts to expand domestic consumption, as well as South Korea's high dependence on trade for GDP growth are the main reasons for South Korea to seek a free trade pact with China," said Wang Ling, chair of the University Council of the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing.

The two countries will first establish the framework for talks, which will form the basis for negotiations covering goods, services, investment and other areas.


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