(2nd LD) S. Korea, Gulf Arab nations to resume free trade talks in Q1
(ATTN: ADDS Moon's visit to construction site in paras 12-13, new photos)
RIYADH, Jan. 19 (Yonhap) -- South Korea and the regional union of six Gulf Arab nations agreed to resume their free trade negotiations in the first quarter of this year, with the aim of completing the negotiations as early as possible, Korea's presidential office said Wednesday.
The agreement was reached at a meeting between President Moon Jae-in and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Secretary-General Nayef bin Falah Al-Hajraf earlier in the day, Moon's office said in a statement.
South Korea and the GCC had agreed to push for a free trade deal in 2007. The two sides held three rounds of talks until 2009, but the negotiations have since stalled after the council announced the suspension in 2010.
Trade volume between the two came to US$46.6 billion in 2020. The GCC, which has six member nations -- the UAE, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar and Kuwait -- supplies 68 percent of South Korea's crude oil imports.
Moon, who is in Riyadh on the second leg of his weeklong trip to the Middle East, asked the GCC secretary-general to make efforts to produce "results that satisfy everyone" in the planned free trade talks.
If South Korea and the GCC sign a free trade pact, it will increase mutual interests in various fields, including goods, services, investment, energy and technology, Moon said.
South Korea and the GCC member states have a "complementary economic structure," in which the Gulf Arab nations sell crude oil to South Korea, while Seoul's major companies join their infrastructure projects, Moon said.
Moon said the two sides began expanding their bilateral cooperation into public health, science, technology and defense, as well as intellectual property.
The GCC secretary-general told Moon he will cooperate with member states to "reach a deal as soon as possible," according to the statement.
After paying a visit to the United Arab Emirates, Moon landed in Riyadh on Tuesday and held talks with Saudi Arabia's de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Moon and the crown prince agreed to work together in areas related to the hydrogen economy.
On Wednesday afternoon, Moon visited a construction site run by South Korea's Samsung C&T Corp. and encouraged employees for their hard work amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Samsung C&T formed a consortium with FCC Construction of Spain and Alstom of France in 2013 to build six subway lines covering 168 kilometers in Riyadh. The project is Saudi Arabia's first public transportation construction project.
Moon is scheduled to visit Egypt on Wednesday evening.
(URGENT) S. Korea's science minister confirms space rocket Nuri's launch success
Three indicted in massive stock manipulation case
(3rd LD) Passenger opens door of Asiana Airlines plane before landing at Daegu airport
BTS' J-Hope completes basic training for military service
(6th LD) S. Korea successfully launches space rocket Nuri in major milestone for space program
N. Korea's aircraft maintenance activity at 'unusual' level: 38 North
(LEAD) Asiana Airlines plane's door opens right before landing at Daegu Airport
(2nd LD) S. Korean experts begin on-site inspection of Fukushima nuclear plant
(3rd LD) S. Korea delays launch of space rocket Nuri over technical glitch
Key political figures gather at memorial service of late President Roh
U.S. military stages 'Elephant Walk' training with F-16 fighters
(LEAD) Japanese warship arrives in S. Korea for multinational WMD-interception naval drill
N. Korea notifies Japan of plan to launch satellite between May 31-June 11: Kyodo
S. Korea slams N. Korea's planned satellite launch, warns of consequences
(LEAD) N. Korea notifies Japan of plan to launch satellite between May 31-June 11: Kyodo