Korea’s top trade official said Thursday that the government is carefully looking into the impact of a free trade deal with China on Asia’s fourth-largest economy as there are divided views on benefits.
“We are cautiously examining the impact of a free trade deal with China on our economy,” Korean Trade Minister Kim Jong-hoon said in a meeting with business leaders.
Kim said there are opinions that Seoul should actively seek a free trade deal with China, but there are also views that such a trade deal with the neighboring country should be cautiously pursued.
In May last year, the two countries completed a nearly four-year joint feasibility study on a possible bilateral free trade agreement and reached an agreement to exchange their views on sensitive issues that arose.
Trade officials from both countries also held preliminary talks on their free trade agreement in Beijing last year.
In Korea, there are growing calls for a free trade agreement with Beijing as a similar trade deal between China and Taiwan has recently taken effect.
Korean President Lee Myung-bak said last year that Seoul needs to consider a free trade agreement with Beijing in order to keep up with other nations that have been adjusting to trade conditions stemming from China’s rapid rise in the global economy.
China is the largest buyer of Korean-made goods and has contributed to Seoul’s sizable trade surplus in recent years, while Korea is China’s third-largest trading partner after the United States and Japan.