The regulations and final goal of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Korea is considering joining are not too different from those involving South Korea’s free trade agreement with the United States, according to the country’s top trade negotiator on Wednesday.
“Including the level of market liberalization, it seems to be largely on par with the existing FTA with the U.S.,” said Deputy Trade Minister Choi Kyong-lim at a press conference following a second round of preliminary bilateral talks with TPP members.
The comments appeared to highlight that the trade pact would not be too large a burden on Korea despite concerns from critics on the impact of such a regional free trade pact.
Choi added that he informed his counterparts that Seoul is “fully prepared” to meet the comprehensive and high-level goals of the TPP, and that the country’s participation will help expand the agreement’s role in the Northeast Asian region.
The bilateral discussions were held with the United States, Canada, Peru, Chile, Singapore and Malaysia from April 3-18.
They were designed to gain approval and support for Seoul’s participation in the TPP should it decided to join the pact meant to establish a stronger U.S. foothold in Asia.
“The countries that are taking part in the negotiations are saying the TPP seeks to do more than the Korea-U.S. FTA in some areas but also less in others. Generally, they are saying it will be similar to the Korea-U.S. FTA,” he said.
The TPP negotiations currently involve 12 countries: Australia, Brunei, Chile, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam. Choi, however, said it will take some more time before Seoul makes its final decision on joining the TPP. He said a third round of preliminary discussions may be needed.
“We need to have additional discussions with the United States and a few other nations,” Choi said.
By Bae Ji-sook and news reports (email@example.com)