South Korea and China on Friday concluded the eighth round of talks for a bilateral free trade deal after the two sides discussed further about the level of liberalization for goods, according to South Korea's Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.
"In the latest round of negotiations, the two sides began discussions for a rough draft of the trade agreement and on the level of liberalization for products, based on the agreed modality, " Yonhap news agency quoted the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy as saying.
The five-day talks, or the first for the second-stage negotiations, were held at the Songdo international business district in South Korea's western port city of Incheon.
According to a press release from the ministry, South Korea and China also held separate working group talks focusing on the sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS), technical barriers to trade (TBT) , intellectual property rights, service and investment and other issues relevant to liberalization under the proposed trade deal.
The exchange of the two sides' initial offers on the level of liberalization this time marked a "good start," said a ministry official.
The two neighbors completed the first-stage negotiations in early September with a total of seven rounds of talks, agreeing on the modality, or basic guidelines for the Sino-Korea FTA.
In the previous round of talks, Seoul and Beijing tentatively agreed to abolish tariffs on 90 percent of all products in terms of the number of items, and 85 percent of imports in terms of their monetary value.
The ministry said the next round of negotiations will be held in China, but the exact date has not be set yet.
China is South Korea's No. 1 trading partner, with Seoul's exports to Beijing accounting for a quarter of the total in 2012. Since the two neighbors established diplomatic ties in 1992, their annual trade has grown almost 50 times and reached 256 billion U.S. dollars in 2012.