Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki speaks during a ministerial meeting at Government Complex Seoul, on Dec. 13. (Yonhap)
South Korea will push to submit an official application to join a mega Asia-Pacific free trade agreement in April next year by speeding up the process of collecting public opinions and building social consensus, the country's top economic policymaker said Monday.
The government earlier said that it had begun the process to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) involving 11 nations as part of efforts to diversify its export portfolio.
Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki said in a meeting with other export and trade-related officials that a task force composed of relevant ministries will discuss countermeasures to handle the impact of joining the CPTPP and contact its member countries, while pushing to submit an official application to accede to the trade agreement in the middle of April.
The timeline appears to be in line with Hong's earlier remark that the government aims to submit the application before President Moon Jae-in's five-year term ends in May next year.
The CPTPP is the renegotiated version of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) led by the former US President Barack Obama administration.
In 2017, then US President Donald Trump withdrew from the TPP, widely seen as a key counterweight to China's growing economic clout.
The CPTPP, launched in December 2018, has been signed by 11 countries, including Japan, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Mexico.
Trade volume by the 11 nations participating in the CPTPP had reached $5.7 trillion as of 2019, accounting for 15.2 percent of the total global trade amount, according to a report by the Korea Institute for Industrial Economics and Trade. (Yonhap)