In October 2002, Chile became South Korea's first-ever FTA partner, opening a new door to the outside world for South Korea which maintained its protective trade stance until the late 1990s when the country was almost swept away by the wake of the Asian financial crisis. Chile was one of four FTA candidates -- Japan, Singapore, Chile, and New Zealand -- suggested by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Although Chile is some 18,400 kilometers (11,433 miles) away from South Korea, the South American nation is one of the countries that are recognized by South Koreans as a "familiar country" thanks to high-quality wine and other imported consumable goods. Some $580 million of wine was imported to South Korea in 2020. Chilean pork is also very popular among South Koreans. 314,066 tons of pork were imported in 2020, accounting for about 30 percent of the total pork consumed in South Korea.
Trade data showed that for the last two decades, trade volume between South Korea and Chile has increased by an annual average of about four percent to reach $8 billion in 2022. Chilean exports to South Korea totaled almost $6.2 billion.
According to the trade ministry, the 8th round of negotiations for the modernization of the South Korea-Chile FTA was kicked off in Seoul on November 29. The negotiation meeting will end on December 1. South Korea hopes to improve the existing FTA to include the trade of minerals such as lithium.
"In the past negotiations, substantial agreements have been reached in some areas," Ahn Chang-yong, the trade ministry's FTA policy officer, said in a statement on November 29. "This round of negotiations will focus discussions on intellectual property rights, environment, energy, and mineral cooperation, in addition to product permissions. We will make concentrated efforts for progress in negotiations in other areas as well," Ahn said.
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