South Korea enters into three new FTAs

Seoul, Dec 21 (IANS) South Korea entered into free trade agreements with three economies, including its largest trade partner China, the media reported on Monday.

According to officials, the FTAs with China, Vietnam and New Zealand are projected to bring to Korea an additional 1 percentage point in gross domestic product growth over the next decade through a $5 billion increase in annual shipments to the three markets, The Korea Herald reported.

“Global trade outlook is not good, but we hope the FTAs will serve as a much-needed springboard for our economy to take a new leap,” Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn said on Sunday.

China accounts for 26 percent of South Korea’s exports as of October, with the figures for Vietnam and New Zealand standing at 5.3 percent and 0.2 percent.

The new FTAs came into force as Korea strives to reinvigorate its economy, which has in recent years lost its export-led momentum for growth in the face of weak global demand and a slowdown in China.

Overseas shipments by a couple of big-time manufacturers such as Samsung Electronics and Hyundai Motor have been the main driver of growth in the country.

The trade deal with China has immediately lifted tariff on 958 items, including home appliances, instant noodles and various other consumer products, with further elimination of tariffs and non-tariff barriers are being considered.

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