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GCC, South Korea Resume Free Trade Talks on Monday

GCC, South Korea Resume Free Trade Talks on Monday

Monday, 28 March, 2022 - 11:45
Trade Minister Yeo Han-koo (L) and the Gulf Cooperation Council's Secretary-General Nayef Falah M. Al-Hajraf posing for a photo after their agreement to resume talks for a free trade agreement in Riyadh on Jan. 19, 2022. (Yonhap)

South Korea and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) will kick off the fourth round of official talks for a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) in Seoul on Monday, said Seoul's Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.

The South Korean Yonhap news agency reported that the four-day talks will resume after a 13-year hiatus in a move to forge deeper economic ties.

The six GCC countries, namely Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain, the Sultanate of Oman and Qatar supply South Korea with 59.8 percent of its crude oil imports, Yonhap reported.

South Korea and the GCC agreed to push for a trade agreement in 2007 and had three rounds of talks between 2008 and 2009. But the negotiations have since stalled.

However, the two sides agreed to resume these talks when President Moon Jae-in visited Saudi Arabia last year.

In January, Minister for Trade Yeo Han-koo and GCC Secretary-General Nayef al-Hajraf announced the resumption of FTA talks in Riyadh.

According to government data, the trade volume between the two sides reached $46.6 billion in 2020.

The Ministry's FTA negotiator Lee Kyung-sik is expected to attend the talks as a representative of the South Korean delegation, as well as head of the Gulf negotiating team Abdul Rahman bin Ahmed al-Harbi as a representative of the GCC.

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