중앙데일리

New Zealand FTA may be forthcoming

May 17,2008
Prime Minister Helen Clark of New Zealand, left, talks with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak yesterday at the Blue House. By Kim Kyung-bin
President Lee Myung-bak and Prime Minister Helen Clark of New Zealand agreed yesterday to start talks on how a bilateral free trade agreement would work, according to the Blue House.
The two leaders came to the agreement during a summit meeting at the Blue House. Clark arrived in Seoul on Thursday for her three-day official visit.
“There is definitely a need to go over the feasibility of drawing up an FTA between the two countries,” Lee said. “Rice is the only agricultural product that Korea can self-supply, and we depend entirely on imports for other grains.” Lee made this remark in response to Prime Minister Clark’s statement that New Zealand could be a good partner to Korea because Korea is a major importer of agricultural products and needs a quality exporter.
The two leaders shared the view that an FTA would render positive economic effects, such as increased economic growth rates and expanded bilateral trade. They agreed to hold “inter-governmental preparatory talks” to discuss a possible FTA to meet their level of ambition, the presidential office said after the meeting.
A senior official from New Zealand said a series of seminars between nongovernmental institutes from the two countries has built cooperative momentum, which the leaders planned to maintain. New Zealand is a strong producer of grapes, kiwis and wine and a leader in the IT and film industries.


By Lee Min-a Staff Reporter [mina@joongang.co.kr]


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