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Korea and China explore free trade

July 02,2007
A feasibility study to determine if Korea and China can benefit from a free trade agreement will be held in Seoul this week, the government said yesterday.
The two-day talks, which kick off tomorrow, are focused on evaluating the effects of an open trade pact between the neighbors, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry said.
It added that the government officials, scholars and businesspeople who make up the joint study groups will exchange views on what would take place in the agriculture, fisheries and manufacturing sectors if an FTA is signed.
Seoul has made it clear from the first feasibility study meeting, held in March, that any potential agreement must clearly reflect the vulnerability of Korea’s agricultural industry to cheap imports. There are at least two more feasibility meetings planned for this year, with Seoul and Beijing expected to decide whether or not to hold formal talks based on the results of the meetings.
China is Korea’s largest trading partner, with bilateral trade reaching $134 billion last year, compared with $78 billion in Korea-U.S. trade in the same year. On Saturday Korea signed a formal FTA with the United States that has to be ratified by the legislative bodies of both countries. Yonhap


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