President Moon Jae-in says South Korea will consider joining another major trade pact in the Asia-Pacific region, highlighting the need to diversify the country’s trading partners.
At an event on Tuesday to celebrate the country’s 57th Trade Day, Moon said that there will be fierce competition to gain an upper hand in the market as it rebounds in the post-virus era.

We will continue to review joining the CPTPP. We will also actively join discussions in the global community, such as the WTO and the G20, to restore free trade and multilateralism and to lower trade barriers.

The CPTPP or Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership — brings together 11 countries, including Japan and Canada.
Taking effect in 2018, it evolved from the Trans-Pacific Partnership led by the U.S. under the Barack Obama administration, which President Donald Trump withdrew from.
There’s speculation that under Joe Biden, the U.S. might join.

In November, South Korea signed the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership — a 15-member mega trade deal that includes China.
There had been concerns that Seoul could be in an awkward position amid the tensions between Washington and Beijing should it not join the CPTPP.

It’s important for South Korea to join the CPTPP, especially if the U.S. joins because then South Korea can engage in multilateral trade with its second largest trading partner [the U.S.]. It’s also a strategic move to expand the country’s free trade network as the pact includes South America. There shouldn’t be a problem persuading China given Seoul’s economic ties with Washington. And down the line, Beijing could join too.

This is the first time that Moon has publicly mentioned the possibility.
Last month, the top office said that the two trade pacts are not “contradictory” but “complementary,” saying that now is not the right time to discuss whether to join.

President Moon also said that South Korea will expand its free trade network, by finalizing deals with Israel and Indonesia within this year, and will continue FTA talks with China and Russia in the service and investment sectors.
Kim Min-ji, Arirang News.

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