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China, S. Korea expected to finalize first-stage FTA talks in September


18:18, July 01, 2013

SEOUL, July 1 (Xinhua) -- South Korea's commerce minister said Monday that the first-stage talks about free trade deal between Beijing and Seoul could be finalized in September.

"The sixth round of Sino-Korea FTA talks will be held from tomorrow in Busan, and the seventh round will be held in China estimated at between August and September," Minister of Trade, Industry and Energy Yoon Sang-jick told reporters at a briefing.

Yoon hinted that the first-stage talks, which were centered on modality, or basic guideline, could be finalized in September given the agreement between Chinese President Xi Jinping and South Korean President Park Geun-hye over pushing for the completion of the bilateral free trade agreement (FTA).

The two leaders reconfirmed at the summit held in Beijing last Thursday that the goal of creating a China-South Korea free trade zone is to reach a high-level and comprehensive free trade pact.

Yoon noted that following the seventh round of talks, the ministry should report to the parliament and may need additional adjustment with China through unofficial channels to advance into the second-stage negotiations.

Seoul and Beijing will hold the sixth round of FTA talks for three days through Thursday at South Korea's largest port city of Busan. The upcoming round was expected to come up with a draft on modality of each area, which would reflect stances of both sides.

The formal negotiations for Sino-South Korea FTA were launched in May 2012, with the fifth round held in Harbin, China in April. Seoul and Beijing are also seeking a trilateral free trade deal, including Japan.

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