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S. Korea, Arab nations agree to resumption of free trade talks

All News 19:00 November 03, 2021

By Oh Seok-min

SEOUL, Nov. 3 (Yonhap) -- South Korea and a group of Arab countries have agreed to push for the resumption of their free trade talks that have been suspended for a decade in a move to forge deeper economic ties, Seoul's industry ministry said Wednesday.

The announcement was made during the meeting between South Korea's Trade Minister Yeo Han-koo and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)'s Secretary General Nayef Falah M. Al-Hajraf held in Riyadh earlier in the day, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.

The GCC has six member nations -- the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar and Kuwait.

South Korea and the GCC agreed to push for a free trade agreement (FTA) in 2007 and had three rounds of talks between 2008 and 2009. But the negotiations have since stalled after the council announced the suspension in 2010.

"The Gulf region is a crucial market for South Korea given its population, income and growth potential. The agreement for the resumption of FTA talks is expected to serve as a chance to boost trade, investment and overall cooperation with the six nations," the ministry said in a release.

Trade volume between the two came to US$46.6 billion in 2020.

Yeo also held separate talks with Saudi Arabia's Commerce Minister Majid bin Abdullah Al Qasabi, during which the two sides vowed to expand bilateral industry cooperation to create new business opportunities.

The trade minister is in Saudi Arabia for a five-day overseas trip, which will later take him to Britain, his office said.

This file photo, taken on July 29, 2008, shows the initial round of South Korea-GCC Free Trade Agreement negotiations held in Seoul. (Yonhap)

graceoh@yna.co.kr
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