Vietnam and South Korea for a bilateral free-trade agreement

Vietnam and South Korea to hold more FTA talks this week

Vietnamese goods on display at an outlet belong to South Korean hypermarket Lotte Mart in 2012

The fourth round of negotiations between Vietnam and South Korea for a bilateral free-trade agreement are taking place in Ho Chi Minh City through Friday, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported.

 Korea’s Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said in a press release that the two countries planned to hold “in-depth discussions” on various issues ranging from products to customs during this round.

 The talks were launched in September, 2012, with the last round held in South Korea’s Busan last October.

At a meeting with Vietnam’s Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc on January as part of Phuc’s 5-day visit to South Korea, Prime Minister Chung Hong Won acknowledged Vietnam as a major trade partner, saying he hoped the negotiations would wrap up this year.

According to the General Department of Vietnam Customs, Vietnam’s imports from South Korea totaled US$20.7 billion last year, up 33 percent.

Bilateral trade rose by nearly 30 percent to $27.3 billion, making that country Vietnam’s third-largest trade partner.

Vietnamese analysts expected the free-trade agreement to not only push the number up to $70 billion in 2020 but also help Vietnam balance its bilateral trade with South Korea.

Vietnam is part of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations, with which South Korea signed an FTA in 2009. The Korea-ASEAN FTA went into effect in 2010.