HANOI, Nov 18 — South Korea is exploring the possibility of forging individual free trade agreements (FTAs) with more ASEAN members in a move to further boost growing economic ties with the region, Vietnam News Agency (VNA) quoted the state media agency, Yonhap.
The country is reviewing the possibility of FTAs with some of the five countries of Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand, as part of efforts to promote bilateral economic cooperation, according to a senior trade official, who is in charge of free trade policy at the South Korea’s Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.
However, he declined to elaborate on specific countries that could be shortlisted for potential free trade deals with South Korea.
South Korea has a free trade agreement with the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations, but it has been pushing for separate free trade deals with individual members of the organisation.
The East Asian nation’s free trade deals with Singapore and Vietnam went into effect in 2006 and 2015, respectively.
Last month, South Korea reached a preliminary agreement with Indonesia on the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement ahead of the conclusion of a final deal within this year. The country hopes to formally sign the deal with Indonesia early 2020.
The country is also looking to clinch free trade deals with Malaysia and the Philippines by the end of the year.
If all the negotiations underway are successful, South Korea will have free trade deals with all five of its top ASEAN trading partners.
ASEAN comprises Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand, Singapore and Vietnam.