The Korea-China FTA is expected to be signed this year, although both parties disagreed on some major points, such as agricultural products, at the 13th round of talks held late last month.
“We will take an active stance in order to accelerate economic integration in the form of the Korea-China FTA conclusion, Trans-Pacific Partnership, etc.,” said Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Strategy and Finance Choi Kyung-hwan on Oct. 16.
Prime Minister Jung Hong-won also mentioned on the same day that the government is planning to sign free trade deals with China, Vietnam, and New Zealand before the end of this year by making substantial progress.
President Park Geun-hye, who is in Italy now, met with Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang on that day as well to discuss the matter, along with the North Korea nuclear issue.
Although such positive messages are coming out these days and the government is striving for coordination at working-level meetings, some experts are still pessimistic about the possibility.
“With the number of pending hot-button issues exceeding 100 as of now, holding an official negotiation now could result in even the very details to be discussed at the working-level talks having to be handled in the official negotiation,” said an official at the Ministry of Strategy and Finance, adding, “The Korean and Chinese governments are not looking to have official negotiations yet.”