A new round of negotiations for a regional free trade agreement, known as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), will be held in India this week, the South Korean government said Sunday.
The sixth round of RCEP talks will be held from Monday through Friday in India's Greater Noida, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.
The ministry said the participating countries are expected to discuss the level of market liberalization for products, service and investment.
"Also, there will be discussions on issues related to small and medium-sized firms, e-trading and government procurement as the countries move to make sure the RCEP agreement will be a high-level free trade pact," it said in a press release.
The RCEP negotiations were first held in May 2013 with the latest round held June 23-27 in Singapore. The talks for a regional FTA currently involve 16 countries, including all 10 member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
The other six are South Korea, India, China, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.
This week's talks come after China and South Korea, respectively, the largest and fourth-largest economies in Asia, declared the conclusion of their own negotiations for a bilateral FTA earlier this month.
The ministry said the Korea-China FTA may help speed up the RCEP negotiations as it may have laid basic guidelines for the regional FTA.
"The government will continue to actively take part in negotiations with China and Japan for a three-way FTA, as well as other discussions on creating a regional economic bloc such as the RCEP while maintaining their consistency with the Korea-China FTA," it has said.
If signed, the RCEP is expected to create one of the largest economic blocs in the world as the 16 participating countries together account for about 45 percent of the global population and more than 30 percent of the world's gross domestic product.
South Korea already has separate FTAs with India and ASEAN. It has also recently concluded negotiations with Australia and New Zealand for separate FTAs, both of which are now awaiting parliamentary approval. (Yonhap)