Premier Li Keqiang urges China-Korea free trade progress

Working-level talks have been underway between Beijing and Seoul on expanding the FTA to include the opening up of markets to the service and investment sectors.


Flags of China and ROK. [Photo/VCG]

December 13, 2022

BEIJING – Premier Li says cooperation can help keep supply chains stable, unclogged

Premier Li Keqiang called on Monday for an early conclusion of the second-phase of negotiations on the free trade agreement between China and the Republic of Korea, and he urged the two countries to work together to keep supply chains in the region as well as the world stable and unclogged.

Li made the remarks in a video speech delivered at the third round of the Sino-ROK Entrepreneurs and Former High-level Officials Dialogue, which was jointly hosted in a virtual format by the Beijing-based China Center for International Exchanges and the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

The China-ROK free trade agreement came into effect in December 2015, with the removal of major tariffs. Working-level talks have been underway between Beijing and Seoul on expanding the FTA to include the opening up of markets to the service and investment sectors.

Noting that China and the ROK are inseparable cooperative partners, Li said that the nation is willing to work with the ROK to adhere to good neighborliness, respect each other and treat each other as equals to advance the healthy and steady development of bilateral ties.

He called for both countries to leverage their strengths that complement each other and expand cooperation in the fields of manufacturing of advanced technologies, green economy and big data.

Li said that openness leads to progress, promotes development and inspires innovation. He reiterated that China will firmly uphold the fundamental policy of opening-up, open its market wider to the rest of the world and protect the rights and interests of foreign businesses.

China remains committed to developing a world-class, market-oriented business environment that is governed by a sound legal framework and levels the playing field for all types of market players, Li said. It also welcomes enterprises from all countries, including the ROK, to continue expanding cooperation with China to seek mutual benefit and win-win results.

The first round of the dialogue was established in 2018 as a channel to promote bilateral economic cooperation.

Monday’s virtual dialogue followed last month’s meeting between President Xi Jinping and ROK President Yoon Suk-yeol in Bali, Indonesia, on the sidelines of the Group of 20 Summit. Both leaders agreed to increase exchanges and cooperation to promote bilateral ties.

Participants in the dialogue adopted a joint statement calling for progress in the free trade agreement talks to stabilize two-way trade.

The statement also called for efforts to enhance cooperation in the framework of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, a mega trade pact involving the two countries and the Association of the Southeast Asian Nations.

Other proposals included expanding international cooperation and policy exchanges in sustainable growth and carbon emissions goals, and normalizing people-to-people exchanges.

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