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Korea, China resume free trade negotiations
Publication Date : 31-10-2012
South Korea and China began their fourth round of negotiations on a free trade agreement on Tuesday amid growing attention to whether the two sides will be able to draw up negotiation guidelines for each industry sector.
During the three-day meeting that runs through Thursday in Gyeongju, North Gyeongsang Province, the two countries will discuss various issues including the classification of so-called "sensitive products", Seoul's trade ministry said.
During the previous round of FTA talks, the two sides reached an agreement on removing tariffs on products within 10 years of the implementation of their free trade accord.
The two sides are expected to next discuss what products are classified as sensitive items, trade officials in Seoul said.
In early May, Korea and China announced the start of formal free trade negotiations. Trade officials from both sides expect the talks to take two years.
The two countries earlier agreed that FTA talks would proceed in two tracks - the handling of sensitive items and the scope of the free trade agreement to be discussed first.
Agriculture and fisheries are considered to be the most sensitive sectors for South Korea, while China categorises its manufacturing industries, which include the automobile, machinery and oil sectors, as sensitive, according to Yonhap News.
A group of Korean farmers and activists have held rallies in Seoul to oppose the FTA talks with China.
China is Korea's largest trading partner, with bilateral trade expected to reach US$300 billion by 2015.
Korea has concluded FTAs with the United States and the European Union. The country is also seeking a free trade deal with Canada and Japan.