Anchor: South Korea plans to pursue free trade agreements(FTA) with the former Soviet Union countries and Arab nations in order to lower its trade dependence on the U.S. and China. The move comes as China's economic retaliation continues over Seoul's decision to house the U.S. THAAD antimissile battery and as concerns rise that the Trump administration will try to renegotiate or even abolish its FTA with South Korea.
Our Kim In-kyung has more.
Report: The Trade Ministry said in a report submitted to the parliament's trade committee on Monday that it will launch FTA negotiations with Mexico, the Eurasian Economic Union(EAEU) and the Gulf Cooperation Council(GCC).
It would be South Korea's first FTA negotiations with the EAEU, which comprises Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan, and a resumption of suspended talks with Mexico and the GCC.
South Korea held three rounds of FTA negotiations with the GCC, which includes Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Oman and Bahrain, between 2007 and 2009. But the six oil-producing countries declared an FTA moratorium following the global financial crisis.
Working-level negotiations for a Strategic Economic Cooperation Agreement were held with Mexico between 2008 and 2009, but were halted.
The ministry said it will swiftly complete ongoing trade negotiations and expand its FTA network in South America and Asia in order to diversify markets and respond to U.S. and China risks.
Trade Minister Joo Hyung-hwan also plans to meet with incoming U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to solidify communication channels with U.S. trade authorities. The meeting follows talks with U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross in Washington earlier this month.
The report added that although China continues to deny economic retaliation over Seoul's decision to deploy THAAD, Beijing could strengthen retaliatory actions at each stage of setting up the U.S. antimissile system. It said the government will raise objections so that South Korean companies aren't treated unfairly as well as make efforts to cooperate and communicate with China.
Kim In-kyung, KBS World Radio News.