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South Korea free trade deal 'faces hurdles'

By Ding Qingfen  (China Daily)

13:26, August 23, 2012

Two-year target unlikely to be met as talks stumble over key sectors

It is unlikely that a free trade agreement between China and South Korea will be signed within two years, due to disagreements over key sectors, a source close to the talks said.

"Negotiations have progressed much more slowly than anticipated," the source told China Daily on condition of anonymity. "The target of wrapping up the talks in two years is too optimistic. I believe a much longer period is needed," he said.

His comment came as officials from both countries meet in Weihai, Shandong province, for the third round of negotiations.

The talks, covering intellectual property rights, electronic commerce and government procurement, among other topics, started on Wednesday and will end on Friday.

Commerce Minister Chen Deming and South Korean Trade Minister Bark Tae-ho announced in May that they would launch formal negotiations for an agreement following seven years of preliminary talks.

Two rounds of negotiations have been held since then.

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