South Korea and China have been working to draw up a free trade deal for more than two years now, and the two sides are drawing closer to an agreement.
"We have made visible and notable progress in this round of negotiations. We have reached an agreement in principle on market liberalization in the service and investment sectors."
The two sides agreed to start with a positive list approach, in which they will list items and areas to be liberalized, and then switch to a negative list approach within a certain period of time.
In a negative list agreement, all items and services are liberalized with the exception of those named.
It represents the first time Beijing has agreed to the approach.
As for products and sensitive agriculture industry, the two sides are still narrowing differences -- but Seoul is firm that it won't allow cheaper Chinese products to take hold of the domestic market.
"When we moved in to the second stage of the FTA talks, we were sure that we could protect our agricultural sector by including the majority of our products in the extremely sensitive list. China, on the other hand, wants steel and machineries included in the list."
"The two sides were eager to make progress at these negotiations, the first since Presidents Park Geun-hye and Xi Jinping agreed in summit talks earlier this month to finalize the bilateral trade pact by the end of the year. The next round of negotiations is set for September in China.
Song Ji-sun, Arirang News, Sejong."
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