Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik said Tuesday that South Korea needs to make “meticulous and creative” preparations for a free trade pact with China by carefully studying the possible ramifications the deal may bring about on the local economy.
“China is actively raising the need for a free trade agreement with South Korea,” Kim said during a Cabinet meeting.
“There need to be meticulous and creative preparations for the possible impact the deal will bring about on agricultural sectors and other vulnerable areas as well as overall domestic industries.”
His remarks came after he returned from a four-day official visit to China last week. During talks in Beijing, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao expressed Beijing’s strong desire to officially open negotiations over the bilateral free trade agreement, according to Kim.
“We need to thoroughly study ways to enhance our strategic cooperative relationship with China from a long-term viewpoint given that the great influence the bilateral relations bring about on our security, economy and society will continue and expand,” he said.
The two countries conducted a joint feasibility study of the FTA last May. But they have yet to begin the official negotiations because of differences over sensitive issues.
The Lee government with its economic policies centering on growth, deregulation and market opening, has been seeking to expand free trade deals with key trade partners.
It is currently seeking to pass FTA pacts with the European Union and the U.S. However, both have gathered dust at the National Assembly as political parties have yet to reconcile differences concerning the deals.
By Song Sang-ho (firstname.lastname@example.org