July 7, 2022

South Korean finance minister has hinted that the government is indeed actively reviewing the process to join a mega Asia-Pacific free trade agreement involving 11 nations, as the country is hoping to expand numerous FTAs in the Asia-Pacific region.

According to Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki, the government on the upcoming Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) accession is trying to collect public opinions and social discussions.

He mentioned that the government seeks the CPTPP accession to expand investment and trade and enhance the country’s status as a major player in global trade.

The then U.S. President Donald Trump in 2017 had withdrawn from the TPP, which was later widely seen as a key counterweight to China’s growing economic clout.

The CPTPP was launched in December 2018 and has been signed by 11 countries, this includes – Canada, New Zealand, Japan, Australia, and Mexico.

While Seoul’s move to join the accession came three months after China in a surprising move submitted an application to assent to the CPTPP and Taiwan followed suit.

According to a report by the Korea Institute for Industrial Economies & Trade, as of 2019 the trade volume by the 11 participating nations in the CPTPP had reached US$5.7 trillion. This accounted for 15.2 percent of the total global trade amount.

Experts suggest that in addition to South Korea’s planned implementation of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RECEP), the possible accession to the CPTPP could be a major boost for its move to expand trade portfolio.

AS the country’s National Assembly had ratified the RECEP deal early this month, it will go effect in February next year.

Lastly, the Finance Minister also mentioned that their country will also prepare to resume talks with Mexico and the Gulf Cooperation Council for free trade deals.

South Korean farmers have opposed the government’s bid as the CPTPP calls for high levels of market openness, whilst citing its potential damage to the agricultural sector.

According to industry experts, the accession will also have the same impact of signing FTAs with Japan and Mexico. Thus aggravating the country’s trade deficit with Japan.