South Korea and China will hold a new round of negotiations for a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) next week, the trade ministry here said Friday.The upcoming talks, the 10th of their kind, will be held for five days from Monday in Ilsan, just north of Seoul, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy."At the upcoming round of negotiations, the two countries will again continue their discussions in working groups that each deal with products, services, investment, regulations and cooperation," the ministry said in a press release.A major breakthrough came in the seventh round of negotiations held in Beijing in September, in which the countries agreed on basic guidelines for the proposed FTA, including the level of their market opening for products.They have since been working to map out a detailed list of products to be liberalized under the FTA, but with little or no visible progress.South Korea's Trade Minister Yoon Sang-jick said, however, that the talks were moving forward."It does not mean negotiations are not moving forward just because there is no (visible) progress. It rather means the negotiations are moving toward an end," he told reporters earlier this month.Yoon and other government officials have said the country is giving top priority to the Korea-China FTA, which may provide a starting point for all other FTA negotiations South Korea is engaged in.
South Korea is currently in negotiations for eight new bilateral and multilateral FTAs, including a three-way free trade pact involving China and Japan.