Russia says it is planning to establish a free trade area between the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) – a regional economic bloc which it leads – with South Korea.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov was quoted by media as saying that serious discussions to the same effect were already underway with Seoul.
“Negotiations on the issue are underway and several rounds have been already held,” Morgulov was quoted as saying by the website of the Russian television channel Russia Today.
He emphasized that all the proponents and opponents of the potential agreement must be evaluated with the work on the issue to be continued.
“This is not an easy process, the South Korean economy is very developed and powerful and the EAEU must assume a very serious approach to this issue,” Morgulov said during the eighth annual Asian Conference of the Valdai international discussion club in Seoul.
The official also said that the current situation around the dispute on the Korean Peninsula has resulted in “a block approach” that inhibits trade.
He said Moscow “definitely doesn’t want this kind of approach to stop proper developing of multilateral cooperation” with the existing threat of an armed conflict in the region, RT.com added in its report.
Earlier this year Russian President Vladimir Putin and South Korean President Moon Jae-in agreed to work on establishing a free trade zone between South Korea and the EAEU. The two leaders also agreed to develop projects involving North Korea.
The EAEU is an international organization for regional economic integration. It has international legal personality and is governed by the Treaty on the Eurasian Economic Union.
The EAEU provides for the free movement of goods, services, capital and labor, and pursues coordinated, harmonized and single policy in the sectors determined by the Treaty and international agreements within the Union.
Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and the Russian Federation are the current member states of the union.
The union has been created to comprehensively upgrade, raise the competitiveness of and cooperation between the national economies, and to promote stable development in order to raise the living standards of the member states.