Vietnam and the Republic of Korea began a fresh round of negotiations for a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) in Seoul on May 20, in a joint effort to reach the signing of the document by the end of this year.

During the fifth round, which will last till May 23, the two sides will have an in-depth discussion on goods, services, investment, and customs procedure, according to the RoK Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.

The higher-level bilateral FTA with Vietnam, which will exceed the one with ASEAN, will help strengthen the trade links between the two countries, the ministry said.

At the 2013 Summit, Vietnam and the RoK agreed to wrap up the negotiations by the end of the year after starting the bilateral FTA talks in November 2012.

The RoK already signed a free trade pact in March with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), of which Vietnam is a member.

In 2013, Vietnam was the ninth largest trade partner of the RoK, with two-way trade reaching 28.26 billion USD. It attracted 1.46 billion USD from Korean investors the same year.-VNA