South Korea needs to expand economic territory through FTAs

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Seoul, Jan 14 (Yonhap) South Korea needs to expand its"economic territory" by seeking more free trade agreements ina way to offset disadvantages from its small domestic market,the nation''s top economic policymaker said today.

"If we want to overcome our small domestic market andcontinue fast economic growth, we need to use overseas marketsas our growth base by seeking FTAs," Finance Minister YoonJeung-hyun told a meeting of other economy-relatedpolicymakers.

"The government should push to sign FTAs with emergingeconomies in order to diversify export markets and reducerisks that could come from excessive reliance on a singleregion or single country, he said."

Mentioning Korea''s growing trade with FTA-signedcountries, Yoon emphasized the need for the government toprovide support for small and medium-sized companies so thatthey can better capitalize on such expanded overseas market.

The finance minister said Korea''s trade under FTAs wouldmake up 36 per cent of total imports and exports this year, iffree trade deals with the United States and the European Union(EU) go into effect.

In early December, South Korea and the US reached a finalagreement focusing on US demands that South Korea soften itsautomotive safety and environmental standards, a supplement tothe bilateral deal signed in June 2007.

The free trade deal with the European Union (EU) isscheduled to go into effect in July.

Currently, Seoul has free trade pacts in effect with 16nations. South Korea is also in talks with 12 nations overfree trade accords. (Yonhap)

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