Illustrative image (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) – The Republic of Korea (RoK) on June 3 announced the start of free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations with the Philippines as part of efforts to strengthen economic ties with the Southeast Asian country.

During a meeting in Seoul, RoK Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee and her Philippine counterpart Ramon Lopez set the goal of completing the FTA negotiations by November this year, in concurrence with the RoK – ASEAN Summit.

By removing tariffs and non-tariff barriers, the FTA will also further promote economic ties between the two countries, Yoo said.

Trade value between the two nations has surged over the past years, reaching 15.6 billion USD in 2018, up 67 percent from 2010. The Philippines is now the RoK's fifth-largest trading partner among the ASEAN member states.

Aside from its FTA with ASEAN, the RoK has been seeking to sign separate deals with individual members because the country considers ASEAN a focus in its New Southern Policy.

The RoK already reached FTAs with Vietnam and Singapore, and is negotiating the deals with Malaysia and Indonesia as well.
If all talks are successful, the RoK will have FTA deals with all of its top five trading partners in Southeast Asia.-VNA