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Korea No. 1 candidate for new TPP membership: ex-White House official

South Korea will be considered a priority candidate when the existing members of the Trans Pacific

Partnership talk about accepting new members of the massive free trade agreement, a former White House official said Thursday.

Matthew Goodman, who served as a former White House coordinator for Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation until early 2012, also said in a phone interview that TPP will provide enormous opportunities for a struggling South Korean economy.

"I think Korea should be first in line when the existing 12 TPP members are to talk to new countries interested in joining in the second round," said Goodman, currently senior adviser for Asian economics at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

"I don't think that's going to be soon because unfortunately there's going to be some time needed for the existing TPP agreement to be ratified by the existing members, but I think, probably by the end of 2016 or 2017, maybe the existing members will be willing to talk to new members and I think Korea should be at the front of the line," he said.

After marathon negotiations, trade ministers of the U.S. and 11 other nations reached the landmark deal earlier this week, which would create the largest trading bloc in the world, which accounts for about 40 percent of global gross domestic product.

Goodman said South Korea should have joined the negotiations from the beginning.

"Now, it's too late to join the first round and I think there will be some damage to Korea's economic interest-not very serious but a little bit of trade diversion, technical term for trade moving away from Korea. It will have some negative impact on the Korean economy but not very serious," he said. (Yonhap)


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