Korea, Indonesia aim to seal FTA

Korea, Indonesia aim to seal FTA
President Park Geun-hye speaks in Seoul on September 30, 2013, at an event also attended by US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, honoring the 60th anniversary of the US alliance with South Korea.

JAKARTA ― The leaders of South Korea and Indonesia on Saturday agreed to conclude free trade negotiations within the year, reaffirming the goal of more than tripling bilateral trade by 2020.

After their summit in Jakarta, Presidents Park Geun-hye and Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono announced that the two countries would aim to sign a comprehensive economic partnership agreement, or CEPA, before the end of the year to cut tariffs and promote industrial and investment cooperation.

Separately, finance ministers from the two countries agreed in Washington on Saturday to sign a currency swap deal worth $10 billion amid growing concerns about possible US monetary tapering.

The agreement would be effective for three years and could be extended, the Finance Ministry said.

"Sharing the view that the CEPA would help the two countries achieve our trade goal, and institutionalize bilateral economic cooperation, our leaders agreed to conclude the negotiations by the end of this year," Park said during a joint press conference with Yudhoyono.

Park was referring to the goal of increasing bilateral trade volume from last year's $30 billion to $50 billion by 2015 and $100 billion by 2020.

The summit capped her eight-day tour of Indonesia and Brunei to attend regional forums and cement ties with geostrategically crucial, resource-rich Southeast Asian nations.

A CEPA has a wider scope of cooperation than a free trade agreement. It stipulates not only the level of market opening, but also bilateral industrial cooperation and investment.

Through the envisioned deal with Indonesia, South Korea expects a higher level of trade liberalization than what its FTA with the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations mandates.

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