SEJONG, July 7 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's finance ministry said Tuesday it will step up bilateral and multilateral efforts for Uzbekistan to be admitted into the World Trade Organization (WTO).
Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki and Sardor Umurzakov, Uzbekistan's deputy prime minister for investment and foreign economic relations, held talks in Seoul earlier in the day, during which they also agreed to speed up preparations for a possible free trade agreement (FTA), the ministry said in a statement.
Hong and Umurzakov "agreed to continue bilateral and multilateral efforts for Uzbekistan's entry to WTO," the statement said.
South Korea and Uzbekistan have already completed a feasibility study on the FTA.
Hong and Umurzakov "agreed to swiftly start domestic procedures to begin negotiations on a bilateral FTA," the statement said.
The two countries also agreed to make efforts to expand economic ties in various areas, it said.
South Korea has been making efforts to clinch FTAs with more partners as relations of the world's two largest economies have soured recently over trade and the COVID-19 pandemic. China and the U.S. accounted for nearly 40 percent of South Korea's combined exports in 2019.
The country's exports fell 10.9 percent in June marking the fourth consecutive month of decline amid the fallout from the new coronavirus pandemic, although the pace slowed as major economies around the globe slowly began to resume business activities.
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