Shipping containers are moved at a port in Busan on April 1. (Yonhap)
South Korea decided Friday to join a mega free trade agreement involving 11 Asia-Pacific nations as the country seeks to diversify its export portfolio amid heightened economic uncertainty.
Late last year, the country launched the process to accede to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.
The plan to join the CPTPP was approved at an economy-related ministers' meeting Friday, and the government will submit an official application after completing domestic procedures, including a report to the National Assembly, officials said.
The CPTPP is the renegotiated version of the Trans-Pacific Partnership 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.
The government has said it plans to submit the CPTPP application before President Moon Jae-in's five-year term ends on May 9. The incoming government of President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol is expected to take on negotiations for the country's membership, which is expected to take at least one year.
The CPTPP accession would boost trade and investment for South Korea, increasing its gross domestic product by 0.33-0.35 percent, the state-run Korea Institute for International Economic Policy estimated.
Farmers and fishermen have opposed the move, citing its potential damage to the agricultural and fishery sectors.
The government said it will make efforts to reflect calls by the potentially affected sectors as much as possible in its negotiations for the CPTPP accession and draw up measures to support them, when needed. (Yonhap)