Local companies in China press Beijing on FTA deal

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Local companies in China press Beijing on FTA deal

Korean firms operating in China have called on Beijing to conclude a free trade deal with the country as soon as possible to better integrate the regional economy, officials said yesterday.

In a meeting with Wang Chao, the vice minister of the Chinese Commerce Ministry, late on Thursday, representatives of the companies said that an advanced form of a free trade agreement must be struck quickly between the two neighbors, according to the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry in China.

Korea and China should agree on removing tariffs on products, opening up the service industries and protecting intellectual property before the two sides implement their free trade accord, they urged.

In early May, the two countries announced the launch of formal free trade negotiations, expecting the talks to take two years.

China is the largest buyer of Korean-made goods and has contributed to Seoul’s sizable trade surplus in recent years, while Korea is China’s third-largest trading partner after the United States and Japan.

Bilateral trade reached $188.4 billion last year. Both countries are expecting the volume to top $300 billion in 2015.

Meanwhile, Wang noted that the Chinese government has been actively promoting the FTA negotiations, according to the Chinese ministry.

He also said the recent declaration of the trilateral FTA negotiations among Korea, China and Japan would help create more favorable conditions for economic and trade cooperation between Korea and China.

Korea, China and Japan declared on Tuesday the start of free trade talks despite territorial tension over land disputes. They said they will kick off negotiations next year.

The vice minister stressed that China will continue to attract foreign investment and improve the investment environment.

“The Chinese government is willing to create a favorable environment for foreign enterprises, including Korean companies, and provide a high-quality service to ensure foreign investors feel confidence about doing business in China,” Wang said, according to the statement on the official Web site.

He also urged Korean companies to strengthen cooperation with Chinese enterprises in high-end manufacturing and green low-carbon industries, and to increase investment in the modern service industry field.

He also suggested that Korean firms should seize business opportunities in developing China’s regional economy by increasing investment in the country’s less developed central and western regions, and expand cooperation actively with Chinese enterprises going overseas.
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