Korea and China Eager to Enter Free Trade Agreement

luvsmiling, March 5, 2015, 11:06 a.m.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said Thursday that Beijing will spare no effort to formally sign a bilateral free trade agreement with South Korea "as soon as possible."     After effectively concluding free trade negotiations last November, South Korea and China completed the "initialing" of the deal last month, marking one step closer to the official signing. Both sides voice their hope to sign the deal within the first half of this year.

Speaking at the opening of the annual session of the National People's Congress, the rubber-stamp parliament controlled by China's ruling Communist Party, Li said China will move faster toward the signing of bilateral free trade deals with South Korea and Australia.

"We will move faster to implement the strategy of developing free trade zones, ensuring that free trade agreements with the Republic of Korea (South Korea) and Australia are signed as soon as possible," Li said in his speech that detailed the country's economic policy for this year.

The deal calls for South Korea and China to remove tariffs on about 90 percent of goods traded between the two nations over the next two decades. However, rice and cars were excluded from the deal.  Two-way trade between South Korea and China totaled US$228.9 billion in 2013.

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