Korea, Ecuador to declare launch of FTA talks 2015

Korea and Ecuador were set to declare the start of negotiations for a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) Tuesday, with the first round of talks expected before the end of the year.

The declaration was to be made at a meeting between the countries’ trade ministers in Seoul, according
to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.

“Ecuador is expected to become a gateway for our companies to the large Central and South American markets as the country has an FTA with a regional economic bloc of South American countries known as MERCOSUR,” the ministry said earlier.

MERCOSUR currently has five full members — Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela.

Korea has been seeking to expand its presence in Central and South America.To this end, the country is also moving to launch negotiations for a multilateral FTA with a group of six Central American countries. They are Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama.

The Korea-Ecuador FTA, if signed, will be Ecuador’s first free trade pact with an Asian country. South Korea
already has bilateral FTAs with Chile and Peru, and is moving to implement a free trade deal with Colombia signed in February 2013.In 2014, South Korea’s exports to Ecuador came to US$812 million, down 11.8 percent
from the previous year, while its imports from the South American country spiked more than fivefold to $342 million from $48 million.