South Korea and Turkey have reached a de facto agreement for free trade in the investment and service sectors, the trade ministry here said Monday.
The agreement, once implemented, will complement a free trade pact for products between the countries that went into effect in May 2013, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.
Negotiations for the free trade agreement (FTA) in the investment and service sectors were resumed in August 2013 after a 17-month suspension due to what ministry officials called "remaining differences."
"At the seventh round of negotiations (held in Seoul), the two sides reached a de facto agreement as they narrowed their remaining differences on the text of the FTA in the service and investment areas," Assistant Trade Minister Woo Tae-hee said at a press briefing.
The agreement, once implemented, will also mark Turkey's first-ever free trade pact in the service and investment sector. Turkey has so far signed 17 FTAs that deal only with products, Woo added.
"We believe the service, investment FTA will help expand economic relations between South Korea and Turkey by upgrading the South Korea-Turkey FTA, which has been limited to products, to a comprehensive, high-level FTA," the ministry said in a press release.
Woo said the country's bilateral trade with Turkey jumped over 30 percent to about $6.3 billion in 12 months following the implementation of the products FTA in May 2013.
"The countries' annual bilateral trade in the service sector currently stands at about $740 million. The service, investment FTA is well expected to help greatly expand the countries' bilateral trade in the service sector," he said.
The assistant minister said the countries will seek to initial the proposed agreement before the end of the year for official signing within the first half of next year.