Thanks to General Secretary Xi Jinping’s recent visit to Korea, the Korea-China FTA negotiations are to be conclusively settled within this year. This could boost the economic cooperation between Korea and the “Chángchūn-Jílín-Tumen River Trading District,” the economic belt around the Tumen River.
Xinhuanet, the Internet version of the Chinese national Xinhua News Agency, reported, “Thanks to General Secretary Xi’s visit to Korea, economic and trading cooperation between Korea and China will be enhanced. This will be a very crucial foundation for the Chángchūn-Jílín-Tumen River Trading District.”
The Chángchūn-Jílín-Tumen River District has been selected as a national business by the government in 2009, which made th northeastern part of China the new horizon of economic growth. Before then, southern provinces and the east coast of China were the main targets of economic development.
The Chángchūn-Jílín-Tumen River District is a 73,000 square kilometer economic belt near Jílín. This is a strategically important area, adjacent to North Korea and Russia, and also closely related to the “greater Tumen Initiative” (GTI), one of the regional support programs of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).
Jílín is a key agricultural producer and processor in China, and has become a major agricultural supplier to Korea for a long time.
A researcher at the Northeastern Asia Economic Research Center of Yanbian University said, “The trading amount between Chángchūn-Jílín-Tumen River District and Korea more than doubled to US$524 million in 2011 from US$248 million in 1998. As trading volume increases rapidly, exports from China have shifted to electronics, machinery and facilities, which have greater added value than before, when the main exported goods were agricultural and wood goods.”
Experts in China predict that the FTA effects would be especially big, as the district and Korea complement each other.
They analyze that the primary industries of the district such as agriculture, livestock breeding, mining, and processing would have very strong synergy with low tariffs and Korean technology.
A professional in China said, “In case of Korean processed food, its market share in the Chinese domestic market is increasing constantly. When the FTA becomes effective, Korea could import agricultural products from China, process them to final goods, and re-export them to China.”
Xinhua News Agency predicted that other major industries of the Chángchūn-Jílín-Tumen River District, including automobiles, steel, machinery, and electronics will be inevitably hurt due to the Korea-China FTA.