Korea, China hold talks on joint industrial deal

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Korea, China hold talks on joint industrial deal

Korea and China are once again considering developing a joint industrial complex in North Jeolla, nearly two years after talks on the plan broke down.

The plan to build joint Korean-Chinese industrial complexes in both countries was a part of the free trade agreement between the two nations that went into effect in December 2015.

Representatives from the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy sat down Thursday with their counterparts from the Chinese Ministry of Commerce in a meeting in Beijing.

Saemangeum, a reclaimed tidal flat on the coast of the Yellow Sea in North Jeolla, was picked as the Korean location for the joint venture. The Chinese cities of Yantai in Shandong Province, Yancheng in Jiangsu Province and Huizhou in Guangdong Province were also chosen to host joint complexes.

The second and last meeting on the deal took place in June 2016, a month before Korea announced its decision to install the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Missile Defense (Thaad) antimissile system. Korea’s decision to host the system led to an economic retaliation by Beijing and caused the two countries’ relations to deteriorate.

“It’s significant that the discussion finally resumed after 21 months, taking momentum from the state visit in December 2017,” said the Trade Ministry in a statement.

During the meeting, Korean officials presented incentive policies for the Saemangeum industrial complex and suggested that the two countries create a tourism complex in the area. Korean and Chinese officials also agreed to hold briefings in each country this year to introduce investment opportunities to potential investors.

Thursday’s meeting came exactly a week after Korean and Chinese officials convened to discuss the expansion of the bilateral free trade agreement, a clear indication of the improving economic relations between the two countries.

The dialogue over the free trade pact on March 22 touched on topics such as trade in the service sector as well as China’s measures against Korean companies that were part of its retaliation over Korea’s Thaad decision.

The Korean delegation, which was led by Kim Young-sam, the deputy minister of trade and investment, highlighted Chinese policies that harm Korean companies.

In particular, they pointed out China’s refusal to subsidize electric cars that use batteries made by Korean companies and the suspension and closure of Korean retailers operating in China.

“We will continue our discussion on the topic [of the joint industrial complex] in June this year when vice ministers gather for a meeting,” said an official from the Trade Ministry.

BY CHOI HYUNG-JO [choi.hyungjo@joongang.co.kr]
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