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Taiwan, South Korea should cooperate instead of compete: diplomat

2012/06/09 15:17:49

Taipei, June 9 (CNA) Taiwan and South Korea should see each other as economic partners rather than competitors and should explore potential markets together, Chung Sang-ki, head of the Korean Mission in Taipei, said Friday.

For example, Taiwan can work with South Korea to gain access to preferential treatment through the free trade agreements (FTAs) that the latter has with the United States and 44 other countries, Chung said in an email interview with CNA.

Meanwhile, Korean enterprises could tap into the China consumer market with the help of their Taiwanese counterparts, taking advantage of the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement between Taiwan and China, he said.

"We should think outside the box and see the two sides not just as rivals, but as partners in the global economy and in cultural exchanges," he said.

Although both sides have signed agreements on working holiday programs and recently opened direct flights from Taipei's Songshan Airport to Seoul's Gimpo Airport, they have remained cautious about forging trade pacts due to their similar economic structures.

Chung said that despite the seemingly competitive dynamics, bilateral trade between Taiwan and South Korea totaled US$33 billion in 2011 and is increasing by three to five times per decade.

"The strategic value of Taiwan and Korea, respectively, is expected to grow continuously," he said. "Japan signed an investment protection agreement with Taiwan last year possibly because it saw Taiwan as having high strategic value."

He called for greater cooperation between Taiwan and South Korea in light of Taiwan's position as "springboard" for countries that wish to venture into the China market, and South Korea's status in the region a hub for FTAs.

"Judging from past Taiwan-Korea trade relations, the future prospects are endless," he said.

(By Nancy Liu)