Mexico City summit could get FTA moving again

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Mexico City summit could get FTA moving again

MEXICO CITY - The leaders of Korea and Mexico agreed Thursday to upgrade the “strategic partnership” between the countries to a new level by expanding political dialogue, cultural exchanges and trade and investment.

President Lee Myung-bak and his Mexican counterpart, Felipe Calderon, “shared the perception that the South Korea-Mexico free trade agreement will promote trade and investment between the two countries, given their complementary economies,” a joint statement issued after their summit here said.

The Mexican side agreed to step up efforts for a domestic compromise for the resumption of related negotiations, it added.

The FTA talks between the two countries started in 2007 but came to a halt a year later amid a backlash from Mexico’s business circle, an economic crisis and the spread of the H1N1 virus.

Mexico is Korea’s largest trading partner in Latin America. Two-way trade totaled $8.1 billion in 2009. More than 1,400 Korean firms operate in Mexico, mostly engaged in the manufacturing of electronics, steel and automobile parts, and employing about 40,000 local workers.

“The leaders also agreed to boost cooperation between the two nations in the fields of efficient use of electricity and other energy and renewable energy development,” the document read. “The two sides agreed that energy and infrastructure sectors have a bright prospect for bilateral cooperation.”

In particular, Lee, who arrived in Mexico Wednesday for a three-day state visit, expressed hope for closer cooperation in the areas of nuclear energy, plant construction, transportation infrastructure and information technology.

Lee also unveiled a plan to set up a Korean culture center in Mexico in 2012 to mark the 50th anniversary of the establishment of their diplomatic relations, the joint statement read.

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