Korea, China to discuss expanding FTA deal

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Korea, China to discuss expanding FTA deal

Korea’s trade ministry said Monday it will hold talks with China to expand the scope of the two countries’ free trade agreement (FTA) to the service and investment sector in a way to create new business opportunities for local companies in the tourism, culture, legal and medical industries.

The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy held a meeting with industry officials and trade experts to collect their opinions before launching the follow-up FTA negotiations with Beijing.

Korea and China implemented the FTA focused on lowering tariffs on goods in December 2015 and are set to engage in talks to include the service and investment sectors.

“The follow-up FTA negotiations with China will provide an important opportunity to get ahead in China’s fast growing service market and improve the Korean service industry’s competitiveness,” Trade Minister Kim Hyun-chong said during the meeting. “The government will step up efforts to open markets in major areas, including tourism, culture, legal and medical services, and create a stable business environment.”

China has been reducing its focus on manufacturing to restructure itself toward a more service-oriented economy.

Since Korean companies have grappled with non-trade barriers like investment restrictions and regulations, industry experts expressed hope that follow-up negotiations would pave the way for easier access to a market of 1.4 billion Chinese consumers.

On Friday, Finance Minister Kim Dong-yeon will meet with He Lifeng, chairman of China’s National Development and Reform Commission, to discuss ways to step up economic cooperation and boost trade between the two nations. [Yonhap]

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