President Park Geun-hye could discuss South Korea's entry into a U.S.-led multilateral trade agreement at an upcoming regional meeting, a senior government official said Thursday.
Ju Chul-ki, foreign affairs secretary at Cheong Wa Dae, said the government is "greatly interested" in joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a multilateral trade deal for which the United States is negotiating with 10 countries. According to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, the participating countries are Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.
Ju said Park could broach the topic of South Korea's entering the talks at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum next week in Bali, Indonesia.
"The government has been studying the possibility (of joining the trade talks)," Ju said. "Since many of the countries in the TPP talks are APEC members, it will expand cooperation within the Asia-Pacific region."
Ju qualified his remarks by saying he wasn't certain whether Park would make any final decision on the TPP talks at the APEC meeting.
"At the working level, there have long been talks about joining the negotiations," Ju added. "This time, the president may have something to say about the issue."
Ju's comments were in response to an earlier foreign news report -- citing a South Korean government source -- that said Seoul has all but decided to enter the TPP talks and is weighing whether to make an official announcement during the APEC meeting or in Seoul.