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4th round of Korea-GCC FTA negotiations 2022-03-31

The 4th round of Korea-GCC FTA negotiations are being held (March 28-31) in Seoul. Korea’s government delegation is led by Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Energy (MOTIE)’s Director General for FTA Negotiations Lee Kyung-sik, and consists of relevant ministries’ officials across the Ministry of Economy and Finance, Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Korean Intellectual Property Office, Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries, and Korea Forest Service.

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) comprises Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Arab Emirates, Qatar, Oman, and Bahrein. The GCC is led by Secretary General Nayef Falah Mubarak Al-Hajraf and relevant ministries' officials from the above six countries.

Since the first official consensus on bilateral FTA in 2007, Korea-GCC FTA negotiations saw the first three rounds convene by 2009, the talks were halted with the GCC reassessing their external policies. However, Korea’s Trade Minister laid once more the groundwork for further negotiations during talks with Saudi’s Department of Commerce Minister in October 2021, and in following January, officially agreed with the GCC Secretary General to restart FTA dialogue. This is the first round of negotiations between the two countries in 13 years.

This 4th round of negotiations covers products and services, investment, country of origin, resolving customs and trade difficulties, general provisions, intellectual property rights, and SMEs cooperation.

Taking up 59.8 percent of Korea’s total imports as of 2021, the GCC is Korea's largest supplier of crude oil and contributor to stable energy sourcing. Showing high potential in terms of population, income, and growth, the GCC is geared towards nurturing future industries like manufacturing, renewable energy, and ICT sectors, where the two countries can look forward to active collaboration.

Delegation head Lee Kyung-sik of MOTIE assessed that “the 4th round of negotiations will be an opportunity for parties involved to not only expand trade and investment, but to also build a stable energy cooperation base and supply chain resilience amidst the unprecedented oil price shock.”