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(LEAD) Park voices hope for S. Korea-EAEU FTA

All News 12:13 September 03, 2016

(ATTN: CHANGES headline, lead, photo; UPDATES throughout with Park's speech, details)
By Song Sang-ho

VLADIVOSTOK, Russia, Sept. 3 (Yonhap) -- President Park Geun-hye on Saturday voiced hope for a free trade agreement (FTA) between South Korea and the Russia-led Eurasian Economic Union, underscoring that the deal would open a "new chapter" in bilateral economic cooperation.

To explore the possibilities of the FTA between Korea and the bloc consisting of Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, Seoul and Moscow have been conducting a joint civilian feasibility study since December.

"The EAEU, led by Russia, is the largest integrated economic entity within the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), and South Korea now has an FTA network with the blocs accounting for 77 percent of the world's gross domestic product," she said during a gathering of South Korean and Russian business leaders in Russia's Far East port city of Vladivostok.

President Park Geun-hye speaks during a gathering of South Korean and Russian business leaders in Russia's Far East port city of Vladivostok on Sept. 3, 2016. (Yonhap)

The CIS is a regional organization consisting of nine former Soviet Republics, including Russia, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Moldova.

"Should there be an institutional framework that would enable the free flow of people, materials and capital between South Korea and the EAEU, this would open a new chapter for bilateral economic cooperation," she added.

Putting forward a direction of economic cooperation between South Korea and Russia, Park stressed the need to bolster bilateral trade and investment; enhance cooperation in the development of Russia's resource-rich Far East; and expand the scope of economic cooperation to include areas such as healthcare, medicine and the environment.

"When Russia's source technologies are effectively combined with South Korea's applied technologies, the competitiveness of companies from both countries can improve and this can induce investment as well," she said.

Park's attendance at the South Korea-Russia Business Dialogue marked her first official scheduled event in Vladivostok. She arrived here on Friday for a two-day visit to attend the Eastern Economic Forum and a summit with her Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.

Hosted by the Korea International Trade Association and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Russian Federation, the meeting brought together some 350 businessmen and government officials, including 150 South Korean participants.

Among the participants were Russia's Deputy Prime Minister Yury Trutnev; Alexander Galushka, the minister for the Development of the Russian Far East; and Russian Health Minister Veronika Skvortsova.


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