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China, ROK to sign free trade agreement in 2015

Updated: Nov 17,2014 10:25 PM     Xinhua

Negotiations on a free trade agreement (FTA) between China and the Republic of Korea (ROK) will be completed by the end of the year, China’s Ministry of Commerce (MOC) said on Nov 17.

Wang Shouwen, assistant minister of commerce, said during a press briefing that all negotiations will be wrapped up by the end of 2014. The agreement is expected to be signed in 2015 and take effect in the second half of 2015.

The agreement will cover 17 areas, including trade in goods and services, investment and trade rules, and topics such as e-commerce and government procurement.

Over 90 percent of goods traded between China and the ROK will be tariff-free, accounting for more than 85 percent of bilateral trade value.

Exports from China, especially mechanical and electrical products, metalware and farm produce, will enjoy the favorable conditions, while most of ROK’s industries will receive benefits, Wang said

The agreement means markets of the two countries will be able to merge, allowing for further division of labor and improving competitiveness.

The two sides have reached a balance between opening markets and protecting domestic industry, setting transitional period for some tariff-free products, Wand said.

Two-way trade surpassed $270 billion in 2013, nearly 50 times the volume in 1992, making the ROK China’s sixth-largest trade partner and third-largest source of imports.

One week ago President Xi Jinping and his ROK counterpart Park Geun-hye confirmed in Beijing the conclusion of substantive negotiations on the establishment of the free trade area, described by Xi as a milestone in promoting Asia-Pacific regional integration.