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South Korea resumes free trade talks with GCC

South Korea

South Korea is scheduled to resume talks with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to reach a free trade agreement, after a 12-year hiatus.

The Ministry of Trade and Industry in South Korea said it wanted to establish economic relations with Gulf countries to diversify investment.

The announcement by the Korean Ministry of Commerce came after its Minister Yoo Han Koo met with his Emirati counterpart Thani Al Zeyoudi to talk about resuming talks for a free trade agreement.

South Korea

In his statement, Minister Han Koo said that the multilateral free trade agreement plays a crucial role in establishing sustainable economic relations and dealing with changes in the global supply chain, amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Korean-Emirati meeting included discussing a number of bilateral issues to establish deeper relations in the traditional energy sector, including the petroleum and nuclear industries, in addition to expanding their partnership to include emerging industries, including sustainable energy.

It is reported that South Korea began its free trade negotiations with the Gulf Cooperation Council in 2007, but those talks have been suspended since 2009.

Gulf Investments

In a related context, Gulf countries’ investments in US treasury bills increased by 4% last May, to record $243.8 billion, compared to $234.5 billion in April.

The US Treasury said that Saudi Arabia remains at the forefront of the Gulf countries, holding $127.3 billion in bonds in May, while it was $130.3 billion in April.

The United Arab Emirates comes in second place with $57.3 billion in May, compared to $43.7 billion in April.

Kuwait ranked third with total investments of $45.9 billion, Qatar $7.1 billion, Oman $5.4 billion, and Bahrain followed the list with $828 million.

Globally, the total value of investments in US treasury bills and bonds, until the end of May, increased by 0.9 percent to $7.135 trillion, compared to $7.07 trillion in the previous month.

Japan topped the bond holders with $1.266 trillion in May, compared to $1.277 trillion in April, and China ranked second with $1.078 trillion, compared to $1.096 trillion.

China has been the largest investor in US Treasuries for years, but it has been overtaken by Japan as of June 2019, after a trade war wrecked economic relations between the United States and China.

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