China, South Korea to push forward 2nd phase FTA talks
Published: Nov 26, 2020 04:37 PM

Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi File photo: Xinhua

China's State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Thursday called on China and South Korea to push forward linking of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) with South Korea's development strategies, and also to reach an agreement on the second phase of China-South Korea Free Trade Agreement (FTA).

Wang held talks with his South Korean counterpart Kang Kyung-wha in Seoul on Thursday during his visit to the country.

He said the two countries should accelerate the "docking" of the BRI with South Korea's development strategies in order to promote cooperation in third party economies, strengthen cooperation in key sectors including emerging industries and deepen high-quality integrated development between the two countries.

Wang urged the two countries to reach an agreement on the second phase of China-South Korea FTA, and establish a development plan addressing 2021-2025 China-South Korea economic and trade cooperation as soon as possible as a means to build better conditions for closer bilateral economic partnership.

During the talks, Wang said that the two sides should step up multilateral coordination and cooperation, promote the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership and accelerate the establishment of China-Japan-South Korea free trade zone.

Kang said that South Korea-China strategic partnership had maintained positive momentum over recent years, while the two countries' cooperation in combating the COVID-19 outbreak set an international example.

She said that South Korean will actively promote the deepening of ties, and make efforts to conclude the China-South Korea economic and trade cooperation plan and agreement of the framework for an advanced second phase of South Korea-China-Japan FTA as soon as possible.

The joint plan for bilateral economic cooperation (2021- 2025) between China and South Korea is the first five-year plan designated between China and one of its leading trading partners, which will inject new impetus to the economic rebounding of the two countries, which will benefit regional economies too, Xiang Haoyu, a research fellow at the China Institute of International Studies, told the Global Times on Thursday.

According to trade data from January to October this year, South Korea is China's third largest trading partner after the US and Japan. Against the backdrop of COVID-19, trade between the two countries has braved global headwinds and keeps rising, which indicates the two countries are highly complementary in economic structure, said Xiang, noting that their new joint plan in the working will be consistent with China's 14th Five-Year Plan, which calls for closer connectivity between China and the neighboring countries.

In addition, the signing of the RCEP is good news for both China and South Korea, since one of the biggest benefits to be brought by the framework is reduction of cross-border trade barriers including tariff cuts and smoother personnel and goods flows, experts said.

"Given South Korea's highly export-oriented economy and China's booming market demand in the post-pandemic era, this will not only aid the two countries to accelerate cooperation in the region, but also help to shore up the safety and completeness of their high-tech industry supply chains," said Xiang.