Hanoi (VNA) – The Republic of Korea (RoK) and Cambodia have agreed to launch a joint feasibility study on their potential free trade agreement (FTA) in a move to promote economic ties and expand exchanges, the Korean Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said on November 25.

"The FTA with Cambodia will become a crucial deal that helps Korean firms penetrate deeper into the Southeast Asian nation with prominent growth potential," Korean Minister of Trade, Industry and Energy Yoo Myung-hee said.

During his official visit to Cambodia last March, Korean President Moon Jae-in held talks with Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen, during which they pledged to seek efforts to lift regulations in trade.

The two countries will carry out the joint study on the FTA for one year, the ministry said.

The RoK’s exports to Cambodia reached 660 million USD in 2018, more than doubling the figure of 294 million USD in 2008. The RoK’s imports also surged to 314 million USD from 18 million USD in the reviewed period.

The RoK mainly exported knitted textiles, trucks and beverages to Cambodia in 2018, while importing clothes and shoes.

Amid growing protectionism around the globe, the RoK has been making efforts to expand economic ties with Southeast Asian nations and ease its heavy export dependency on China and the US, its two largest trading partners.

The East Asian country reached a preliminary agreement on the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) with Indonesia in October.

Earlier this month, ASEAN member states, the RoK and five other partner countries also reached a deal on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

The RoK is also in the process of negotiations on FTAs with other nations, including Malaysia and the Philippines./.