Cambodia, RoK launch first round of FTA negotiations hinh anh 1Cambodia and the Republic of Korea (RoK) launch the first round of free trade negotiation on July 3. (Photo: Yonhap News)

Hanoi (VNA) – Cambodia and the Republic of Korea (RoK) on July 30 launched the first round of free trade negotiations, according to the RoK’s Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.

During the two-day virtual negotiations, the two sides will discuss details on the envisioned FTA, including expanding the bilateral economic cooperation and opening up the commodity market.

The talks come more than a year after Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen proposed making preparations for the trade deal during his summit with RoK President Moon Jae-in in Phnom Penh in March last year.

The two countries have carried out a joint feasibility study over the first five months of this year.

RoK Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee said in a statement on July 9 that amid the spread of COVID-19, it has become more important for his country to expand cooperation with Southeast Asian countries.

She noted the RoK is pleased to launch FTA negotiations with Cambodia, which can potentially rise as the new hub of production and trade in ASEAN, adding that the two countries will make efforts to come up with a meaningful result within this year.

The two-way trade volume reached an all-time high of 1 billion USD in 2019, up 6 percent from a year earlier. That included 697 million USD of the RoK’s shipments, up 5.5 percent on-year, according to the data released by the Korea International Trade Association.

The increase was significant as the Northeast Asian country’s annual exports fell more than 10 percent year-on-year in 2019 amid the trade row between the US and China./.