By Kang Yoon-seung
SEOUL, Feb. 2 (Yonhap) -- South Korea said Sunday it will attend a high-level meeting on a mega Asia-Pacific trade pact this week as part of its efforts to expand its trade network around the globe.
During the two-day meeting that kicks off in Bali, Indonesia, on Monday, the participants will set a detailed timeline of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and seek to hold the final signing ceremony later in 2020, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.
It will be the first gathering of the participating countries since the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and its dialogue partners -- South Korea, China, Japan, Australia and New Zealand -- effectively reached an agreement in November last year.
The deal came after the participants launched talks in 2013 about the deal to create a mega economic bloc accounting for half of the global population and one-third of the world's gross domestic product.
Seoul has been rolling out the so-called New Southern Policy, which is aimed at bolstering Seoul's strategic and economic relations with Southeast Asian countries.
The RCEP is especially crucial for the export-oriented economy, whose outbound shipments have been losing ground amid the U.S.-China trade spat and a slump in the global chip industry.
On the back of its efforts to diversify the export portfolio, Southeast Asian countries accounted for more than 20 percent of the outbound shipments last year for the first time, rising from 19.1 percent posted in 2018.
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