London, (Business News Report)|| The GCC countries and South Korea will start a new round of free trade negotiations in the Korean capital, Seoul, for the first time in 13 years.
The South Korean Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said that the fourth round of negotiations on a free trade agreement between South Korea and the Gulf Cooperation Council is scheduled to be held from March 28 to 31 in Seoul.
The ministry explained that the free trade agreement with the resource-rich GCC countries will not only be an opportunity to enhance trade, investment and comprehensive economic cooperation, but will also help ensure the stability of the country’s supply chains.
It noted that the GCC has “great growth potential. The population of the GCC countries is 58.85 million, and the average per capita GDP is $24,000.”
The six GCC countries, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, the UAE, the Sultanate of Oman and Bahrain, supply South Korea with 59.8% of its crude oil imports.
In 2007, South Korea and the GCC countries agreed to negotiate a free trade agreement.
The two sides held three rounds of negotiations until 2009, but negotiations have faltered since then, when the council announced a suspension of negotiations in 2010.
The resumption of negotiations came after President Moon Jae-in paid an official visit to Saudi Arabia last year, and Korean Trade Minister Yoo Han-koo and Secretary-General of the GCC Nayef Al-Hajraf agreed in January to resume negotiations between the two sides.
It is expected that the fourth round of negotiations will be attended by the Ministry’s Free Trade Agreement negotiator Lee Kyung-sik as the representative of the South Korean delegation, and the head of the GCC negotiating team Abdul Rahman bin Ahmed Al-Harbi as the representative of the GCC
The volume of trade exchange between the two sides amounted to $46.6 billion in 2020, according to government data.
And during the recent period, the commercial agreements signed between South Korean companies with Gulf companies increased, in a clear and significant expansion of the partnership between them.
Gulf countries aim to expand their trade relations within the framework of economic diversification.