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S. Korean delegation to take part in RCEP talks in Singapore

South Korean delegates will head to Singapore to participate in the latest round of talks for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), a proposed mega trade deal involving Asian nations, Seoul's trade ministry said Thursday.

RCEP is in essence a massive regional trade deal between 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the six countries with which ASEAN has existing free trade agreements -- South Korea, China, Japan, India, Australia and New Zealand.

Kim Jung-il, Seoul's FTA policy official, will lead the delegation to join the 22nd round of negotiations to be held in Singapore from May 4-8, the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said.

About 70 working-level officials in 14 divisions will seek ways to lower tariffs and trade barriers, and discuss details in the intellectual property and the rules of origin sectors with representatives from other member states.

Seoul has been seeking to expand trade with Southeast Asian nations and India amid concerns over rising protectionist practices and intensifying trade tensions between the United States and China, South Korea's two biggest trading partners.

China has been pushing for a rapid conclusion to RCEP with a deal mainly focused on lowering tariffs, while Japan and ASEAN countries have demanded a more comprehensive deal covering services and investment.

RCEP, if signed, will be one of the largest regional free trade arrangements as the member states accounted for half of global production, as well as 32 percent of global gross domestic product and 29 percent of global trade, as of 2016, according to the trade ministry.

Source: Yonhap

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