China, South Korea to push for FTA talks, RCEP signature

Source: Global Times Published: 2020/8/1 21:23:26

China South Korea File photo:CGTN

China and South Korea agreed on Saturday to push forward free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations and the timely signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement at a bilateral meeting of trade officials. 

The consensuses reached by the two sides on bilateral and multilateral cooperation sends a positive signal for economic recovery in the region and beyond amid coronavirus uncertainty and rising trade protectionism and tension, experts said.

At the annual economic cooperation talks in Qingdao, East China's Shandong Province, China and South Korea agreed to carry forward the second phase of bilateral FTA negotiations and deepening trade and investments cooperation, according a statement published on the website of the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM).

At the meeting, which is the first in-person diplomatic meeting between trade officials since the COVID-19 outbreak began, both sides also agreed to promote China-Japan-South Korea FTA negotiations and the signing of the RCEP agreement on schedule in a bid to maintain the multilateral trading system and construct an open world economy.

The cooperation gesture between China and South Korea is set to offer a positive example  to Japan, which recently signaled a wavering attitude toward China amid escalating US-China tensions, said Huo Jianguo, vice chairman of the China Society for World Trade Organization Studies and former president of the research institute of China's Ministry of Commerce.

China Japan South Korea File photo:CGTN

"There may be remaining issues for China, South Korea and Japan to reach the three-way FTA soon, but a bilateral FTA with South Korea will also provide China a stronger position in its opening-up and economic recovery efforts,"said Huo.

In stark contrast to rising tensions, China and South Korea have been cooperating during the pandemic.The "fast-track" entry system of important business personnel first established by China and South Korea has effectively promoted the resumption of work and production, and stabilized the supply chain and the industrial chain, said Li Chenggang, assistant minister of commerce.

It is of great significance for the two important trade partners to hold this meeting during such a special period, said South Korea's Deputy Foreign Minister for Economic Affairs Lee Seong-ho.

"Positive economic cooperation among China, South Korea and Japan is essential for the regional economy amid virus uncertainty," said Liang Qidong, researcher at the Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences in Northeast China's Liaoning Province.

Countries in the region should be wary of and remain impartial from the pressure of the US' decoupling approach, Liang warned.

Global Times


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