SEOUL – South Korea will begin negotiating with the Pacific Alliance to achieve member status in the Latin American economic bloc by the end of the year, the South Korean Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy reported on Wednesday.
Trade Minister Kim Hyun-chong agreed to start proceedings with four members of the bloc – Mexico, Chile, Colombia and Peru – during the alliance’s summit this week in the Mexican coastal city of Puerto Vallarta.
Seoul, which has already signed free-trade agreements (FTA) with Chile, Colombia and Peru, seeks better access to the Mexican market through the partnership agreement with the Pacific Alliance.
Kim, in a statement published by his ministry Wednesday, said that despite being one of the 10 largest exporting nations, South Korean companies have been at a disadvantage due to competitors from the United States, the European Union and Japan in the absence of an FTA.
He also said that a partnership agreement with the Pacific Alliance is significant because it makes way for access into the Mexican market 10 years after the suspension of bilateral ties.
Talks between South Korea and Mexico over the signing of an FTA were stalled in 2008 owing to the reluctance of some Mexican business sectors and the lack of South Korean investment at the time.
However, the significant increase in the volume of trade between the two countries (in 2017 it was $15.3 trillion, double that of a decade ago) and South Korean investment on Mexican soil now underlines the need to improve the regulatory bilateral framework.