South Korea and Vietnam opened a fresh round of negotiations Tuesday for a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) as the countries seek to conclude their negotiations before the end of the year.
The fifth round of FTA negotiations will be held in Seoul until Friday, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.
“At the fifth round of negotiations, the two countries will hold in-depth discussions in each area, including products, service, investment, country of origin, customs and cooperation,” the ministry said in a press release.
The bilateral FTA talks were launched in November 2012. In a 2013 summit, the leaders of the two countries agreed to conclude negotiations for a “comprehensive and high-level FTA” before the end of this year. The last round of talks was held in Ho Chi Minh City in March.
South Korea already has a free trade pact with the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), to which Vietnam is a member.
“The Korea-Vietnam FTA, once signed, will provide a chance to further strengthen the two countries’ economic and trade relations by enabling a higher-level liberalization of the two countries’ trade and investment markets than the Korea-ASEAN FTA,” the ministry said.
Vietnam is South Korea’s ninth-largest trading partner with about US$21.09 billion worth of products shipped to the Southeast Asian country in 2013. It is also the world’s fourth-largest destination for South Korean investment that attracted some $1.46 billion from South Korea last year, according to the ministry.