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S. Korea, U.S. to discuss including products from Kaesong in FTA

2013/10/05 20:44

SEOUL, Oct. 5 (Yonhap) -- South Korea said Saturday it will begin talks with the United States next month on whether to entitle its goods made in North Korea to advantageous tariffs under their bilateral free trade agreement.

The first meeting of the Committee on Outward Processing Zones on the Korean Peninsula will be held on Nov. 4-5, the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said.

The decision came at a meeting between South Korea's Trade Minister Yoon Sang-jick and U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Bali, Indonesia, it said.

"The two sides have been closely consulting with each other about the schedule for the first meeting of the Committee on Outward Processing Zones on the Korean Peninsula," the ministry said in a press release.

About 120 small-sized South Korean factories are operating at a joint inter-Korean industrial park in the North's border city of Kaesong. They produced about $80 million worth of garment and other labor-intensive products last year.

South Korea hopes that its goods produced at the joint industrial park can be exported to the U.S. under a bilateral FTA put into effect in 2012. The U.S., which has no diplomatic relations with North Korea, has so far been reluctant to accept the South Korean request.

The inter-Korean factory zone, launched in 2004, is the only remaining symbol of rapprochement on the Korean Peninsula. It was reopened in September after being shut down for more than five months amid acute cross-border tensions.