China, ROK to speed up FTA negotiations

(China Daily)
Updated: 2007-04-06 06:48

Premier Wen Jiabao yesterday said he expects China and the Republic of Korea (ROK) to speed up the study of a free trade area (FTA).

"China and the ROK should come up with a win-win FTA proposal at an early date to pave the way for the FTA," Wen said in a joint interview with journalists from 19 ROK news organizations.

The interview came ahead of Wen's ROK trip scheduled for April 10-11, the first by a Chinese premier in eight years.

China appreciates the fact that the ROK recognized China as a full market economy, Wen said.

Bilateral trade volume has increased by 26 times - to $130 billion last year - since the two countries forged diplomatic ties in 1992.

"The close trade ties are based on the principles of equality, mutual benefit and complementarity," Wen said.

He cited a target set by President Hu Jintao and his ROK counterpart Roh Moon-hyun - during their meetings in 2005 and 2006 - of trade worth $200 billion by 2012.

Hu and Roh also agreed on five investment and trade liberalization measures and defined 12 key areas of cooperation.

Wen urged the two countries to work more closely on energy conservation, environmental protection, and the hi-tech industry.

He also proposed the two countries step up consultations within the framework of the World Trade Organization, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum and other international mechanisms.

Wen, along with ROK leaders, will inaugurate the China-ROK Exchange Year in Seoul, which includes 47 China-sponsored exchange programs.

On the Six-Party Talks aimed at resolving the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue, Wen said the relevant parties should continue consultations so that a peace mechanism can be established on the peninsula.

In response to a question about the unification of the Korean Peninsula, Wen said it would be up to the Republic of Korea and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) to resolve the issue "independently and peacefully".

"We hope the ROK and the DPRK develop mutual trust and mend ties through negotiation and dialogue.

"This is a pre-requisite for independent and peaceful unification," Wen said. "The Chinese government will continue to play a positive role in this regard."

Wen said there are no territorial issues between China and the ROK, pointing out that the two countries enjoy a shared history and cultural and economic exchanges for thousands of years.


(China Daily 04/06/2007 page2)

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