SEOUL, Dec. 10 (Korea Bizwire) — South Korea plans to hold talks with the six member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council this week in Saudi Arabia in the latest effort to work out differences to forge a free trade agreement, the industry ministry said Sunday.
The chief delegate talks — which will be led by Chang Sung-gil, director general for free trade agreement negotiations, and Raja Al-Marzouqi, Saudi chief economic adviser who serves as the head of the negotiating team of the GCC — will begin in the Saudi capital of Riyadh on Monday for three days, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.
“The South Korea-GCC Free Trade Agreement is expected to offer new opportunities for maintaining our export growth and enhancing supply chain stability amid increasing global economic instability due to protectionism and the restructuring of global supply chains,” the ministry said.
South Korea and the GCC — which comprises the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar and Kuwait — held their eighth round of negotiations in Seoul in October. It marked the resumption of FTA negotiations, which had been stalled since 2010. South Korea launched FTA talks with the GCC in 2007.
The GCC nations account for 80 percent of South Korea’s trade with the Middle East. South Korea depends on the six member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council for 70 percent of its total crude oil imports.