Korea and Australia agreed to further bolster the economic ties between their two nations and work toward an early implementation of the free trade agreement they signed earlier this week, the Finance Ministry said Friday.
In a meeting held on the sidelines of the Group of 20 meetings in Washington, Finance Minister Hyun Oh-seok and Joe Hockey, treasurer of Australia, discussed such issues, stressing that the FTA would contribute significantly to the mutual development of their countries.
The FTA between Korea and Australia was officially signed in Seoul on Tuesday, nearly five years after negotiations began. The two sides are now seeking legislative ratifications to put the agreement into effect before the year’s end.
During the latest meeting, Hyun, who concurrently serves as the country’s deputy prime minister, proposed establishing a joint economic committee that will talk over not only economic issues, but also resources and infrastructure.
The proposal was an upgrade to Australia’s earlier offer to set up a two-plus-two meeting among finance and trade ministers from the two countries.
Hyun also met with his Canadian counterpart Joe Oliver and discussed ways to strengthen economic cooperation between their countries, the ministry here said.
South Korea and Canada declared the conclusion of their FTA negotiations early last month.
Oliver noted the significance of the agreement as his country’s first FTA with an Asian country, the ministry said.
He urged swift implementation of the free trade pact and requested active investment by South Korean firms in his country, it said.
Following his participation in the G20 meeting, Hyun will attend the International Monetary and Financial Committee meeting that involves officials from both the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
Hyun is also scheduled to hold bilateral meetings with his Mexican counterpart and World Bank President Jim Yong Kim during his five-day trip to Washington that began Thursday.
By Kim Yon-se and news reports