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SEOUL, Oct. 14 (Yonhap) -- South Korea and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) announced Thursday that they will launch official talks toward a bilateral free trade agreement, Seoul's trade ministry said.

Trade Minister Yeo Han-koo met his UAE counterpart, Thani Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, in Dubai, and issued a joint statement that calls for pushing to forge a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.

The CEPA is a type of free trade agreement that emphasizes a broader scope of economic cooperation and exchanges on top of market opening.

(lead) s. korea, uae agree to push for free trade deal

"The UAE is South Korea's key partner country under 'the special strategic partnership' and the two nations have been working closely on energy fields and responses to the COVID-19 pandemic," Yeo said. "The CEPA is expected to further boost transactions and investment in bio, aerospace, hydrogen and renewable energy, and many other fields."

South Korea's trade volume with the UAE stood at $9.4 billion as of 2020.

The trade ministry said it will soon begin due domestic procedures to initiate the talks with the UAE, though it did not provide a specific timeframe.

South Korea has clinched a series of free trade agreements with major trading partners, including the United States, China, as well as Chile, Peru, Colombia and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), in recent years as part of its efforts to boost growth in the country's export-driven economy.

ASEAN comprises Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand, Singapore and Vietnam.

(lead) s. korea, uae agree to push for free trade deal

graceoh@yna.co.kr
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