S. Korea eyes resumption of new FTA with group of Arab nations

SEOUL-- South Korea's trade ministry said Monday it aims to resume talks for a new free trade agreement with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to forge deeper economic ties with the Middle East after a hiatus of more than 10 years.

Trade Minister Yeo Han-koo plans to meet his UAE counterpart Thani Al Zeyoudi virtually later in the day and propose resuming talks for the South Korea-GCC FTA, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.

Asia's No. 4 economy and the GCC agreed to launch negotiations for the free trade agreement in 2007, but related talks have been stalled since 2009.

The GCC has six members under its wing, namely the UAE, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar and Kuwait.

"A multilateral FTA plays a crucial role in establishing sustainable economic ties and coping with changes in the global supply chain amid the COVID-19 pandemic," Yeo said in a statement.

During the meeting, the two countries also plan to discuss a wide array of bilateral issues to forge deeper ties in the energy sector.

"South Korea and the UAE have been holding close ties in traditional energy sectors, including the petroleum and nuclear industries," Yeo said. "Based on such cooperation, the two countries need to expand their partnership to emerging industries, including sustainable energy."

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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