Vietnam and the Republic of Korea (RoK) have announced the start of negotiations on a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA), to boost economic cooperation and regional integration.

Vietnam’s Minister of Industry and Trade Vu Huy Hoang and Minister for Trade of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of the RoK, Bark Tae-ho made the announcement in Hanoi on August 6.

The two ministers agreed to conduct negotiations in accordance with the World Trade Organisation’s regulations and add to previous commitments in the FTA between ASEAN and the RoK, taking into account each country’s sensitive areas and the development gap between the two countries.

The new FTA will cover trade in commodities and services, investment, economic cooperation and other issues of mutual concern.

According to Hoang, two-way trade rose from 500 million USD to nearly 18 billion USD last year, since the two sides established diplomatic ties in 1992, fulfilling the target set by the two countries’ leaders.

He added that the liberalisation of trade and investment through the Vietnam – RoK FTA is expected to bring two-way trade to over 20 billion USD before 2015.

Bark said that the bilateral FTA will boost political, economic and cultural ties between the two countries as well as tighten Vietnam and the RoK’s strategic partnership, which was established in November 2009.-VNA