South Korea seeks to reinvigorate economic ties with Latin America

July 6, 2022

SEOUL – South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin has offered to resume free trade talks with Mexico, the ministry announced on Tuesday, as the government seeks to reinvigorate ties with South America.

Park met with his Mexican counterpart, Marcelo Ebrard, in Seoul on Monday to discuss strengthening bilateral relations and strengthening cooperation in various sectors, according to the Foreign Ministry.

During their first bilateral meeting, the Korean minister suggested that the two countries resume negotiations for a free trade agreement, the discussions of which have been at a standstill since 2008.

“It is important to quickly resume the formal negotiation process for a free trade agreement between South Korea and Mexico,” Park told Ebrard, according to the Foreign Ministry.

At the two countries’ presidential summit in 2016, the then leaders agreed to relaunch negotiations, but little progress has been made.

South Korea has signed a strategic economic complementarity agreement with Mexico and Ecuador, respectively.

Besides negotiations with Mexico, South Korea is in talks for a trade deal with Mercosur, a regional trading bloc of Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay. With the total population of Mercosur member states accounting for about 70% of South America’s population, it also accounts for about 68% of the region’s economy.

Seoul has signed FTAs ​​with five Central American countries – Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama – and is also working to sign an agreement with Guatemala and Dominica.

The Korean foreign minister also stressed that the country should join the Pacific Alliance, a regional integration initiative of Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru, as an associated state. Membership as an associated state would grant free trade access to members of the alliance.

In line with the government’s efforts to increase trade with the region, Park also suggested the two sides resume activities of the Korea-Mexico Joint Economic Committee, which last held its eighth meeting in January 2015 in Mexico.

South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin (right) shakes hands with his Mexican counterpart, Marcelo Ebrard, during their first bilateral meeting in Seoul on Monday. (Yonhap)

The joint economic committee between the two countries was first launched in 1991, which was attended by the deputy secretaries of the two foreign ministries.

Other areas of cooperation discussed include vaccines, the aerospace industry and the fight against the pandemic.

This year marks the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between South Korea and Mexico. Along with Mexico, South Korea established diplomatic relations with 14 other South American countries, including Argentina, Chile, and Colombia in the same year 1962.

“Under the new government, we plan to increase official high-level exchanges with South American countries, as well as strengthen cooperation in various sectors, including economic security, digitalization and the environment,” he said. said a Foreign Ministry official.

Strengthen ties with South America

In a bid to strengthen relations with countries in Central and South America, the Foreign Ministry on Tuesday opened the Korea-LAC Future Cooperation Forum 2022 with the Busan Metropolitan Government.

Ministers and senior officials from nine countries, including Costa Rica, Honduras and Panama, among others, traveled to South Korea to attend the two-day forum held in Busan, the second largest city. . Argentina participates virtually.

The forum comes amid the growing importance of securing the global supply chain and economic security, the foreign ministry said.

It is the first such multilateral event inviting senior officials from the region hosted by the Yoon Suk-yeol administration, which was launched in May.

Delivering his keynote address in Spanish, Foreign Minister Park explained how Ecuador was the first country South Korea exported its first local car – the Hyundai Pony -, stressing how this marked the beginning of the country’s connection with South America.

“As we celebrate the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations and witness a great transition in the political and economic world order, we must remember our special relationship in the past,” Park said.

“We must shape our future together as partners in economic security.”

On the first day of the forum, government officials, academics and businesses took part in panel sessions and discussions, focusing on global supply chain resilience, digitalization and infrastructure.

The sessions were streamed live via the official Foreign Ministry YouTube channel and Facebook page.

Park held back-to-back talks with ministers and deputy ministers from nine countries on the sidelines of the forum to seek their support for Korea’s bid for the expo, according to the Foreign Ministry.

On Wednesday, participants will visit candidate sites for the 2030 World Expo in Busan.

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