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(LEAD) S. Korea to submit application for CPTPP in April: finance minister

All News 11:57 December 27, 2021

(ATTN: ADDS remarks in last 4 paras, photo)

SEOUL, Dec. 27 (Yonhap) -- South Korea will push to submit an official application to join a mega Asia-Pacific free trade agreement in April next year by speeding up the process of collecting public opinions and building social consensus, the country's top economic policymaker said Monday.

The government earlier said that it had begun the process to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) involving 11 nations as part of efforts to diversify its export portfolio.

Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki said in a meeting with other export and trade-related officials that a task force composed of relevant ministries will discuss countermeasures to handle the impact of joining the CPTPP and contact its member countries, while pushing to submit an official application to accede to the trade agreement in the middle of April.

Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki speaks at a meeting with export and trade officials on Dec. 27, 2021. (Yonhap)

The timeline appears to be in line with Hong's earlier remark that the government aims to submit the application before President Moon Jae-in's five-year term ends in May next year.

The CPTPP is the renegotiated version of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) led by the former U.S. President Barack Obama administration.

In 2017, then U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew from the TPP, widely seen as a key counterweight to China's growing economic clout.

The CPTPP, launched in December 2018, has been signed by 11 countries, including Japan, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Mexico.

Trade volume by the 11 nations participating in the CPTPP had reached US$5.7 trillion as of 2019, accounting for 15.2 percent of the total global trade amount, according to a report by the Korea Institute for Industrial Economics and Trade.

At Monday's meeting, Hong also designated 200 strategically important items that will be subject to strict state monitoring to ensure their stable supplies.

They are part of 4,000 items that the government earlier vowed to closely monitor amid growing risks stemming from global supply disruptions of key materials.

The government also launched an early warning system to monitor the flow of those items, including magnesium, tungsten, neodymium and lithium hydroxide.

Of them, Hong said that the government will complete measures, in particular, to ensure the stable supply of 20 items, including magnesium and other key industrial materials, before the end of this year.

kokobj@yna.co.kr
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