Leaders of S. Korea, Philippines agree to make efforts for FTA deal by next year
BUSAN, Nov. 25 (Yonhap) – The leaders of South Korea and the Philippines agreed on Monday to make joint efforts to reach a deal in their free trade negotiations within next year, the South's presidential office said.
President Moon Jae-in and his Filipino counterpart, Rodrigo Duterte, made the pledge during a one-on-one summit held on the sidelines of a special summit between South Korea and the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in the southern port city of Busan.
This year also marks the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations between South Korea and the Philippines.
The two sides agreed on the need to open their commodities market at an early date and vowed to work together for substantive progress in the ongoing FTA negotiations, so that they can strike a deal sometime in 2020, Moon's office said. The two sides began their FTA talks in June.
Two-way trade volume stood at US$15.6 billion as of end-2018, compared with $11.6 billion in 2015.
During the summit, they also discussed ways to boost bilateral relations in trade, investment, defense cooperation, infrastructure, energy and people-to-people exchanges.
Moon called for the Philippines' support for South Korean companies looking to participate in various infrastructure projects in the Southeast Asian country, such as construction of power plants, airports and railways, as well as in the field of renewable energy.
He also asked for interest and support from the Filipino government in providing more opportunities to Korean companies in defense related projects, taking note of the Philippine's active push for military modernization.
In addition, Moon requested special attention be paid to the South Korean nationals living in or traveling to the Philippines, and Duterte responded with a pledge that his government will step up efforts to ensure their safety.
At Monday's summit, the two leaders also signed two separate deals -- on increasing pension benefits for workers in each other's countries, and bolstering tourism cooperation.
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