Russia- South Korea Free Trade Talks Continue – EAEU FTA On The Cards

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South Korea’s Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy announced that the South Korea-Russia FTA negotiations for the service and investment sectors would be held, for the first time by video conference due to the impact of the Global Coronavirus. They are taking place from today until Thursday, March 26.

The talks are being led by South Korean Director General for FTA Policy Jeon Yoon-jong in Seoul, and Marya Baranova, Deputy Director at the Department for Trade Negotiations of the Ministry of Economic Development in Moscow.

The two countries started the negotiations in June 2019 and have held three rounds of negotiations so far, reaching a consensus on how to open their service markets and how to organize an agreement.

“This time, we will proceed with department-specific talks in relation to service, investment and general rules to reach a substantial agreement on major provisions,” the South Korean ministry explained, adding, “To collaborate closely and avoid COVID-19 infection, we will employ means such as video conferences, conference calls and emails.”

“These talks will develop to include the Eurasian Economic Union” says Chris Devonshire-Ellis of Dezan Shira & Associates. “Russia is a primary member of the EAEU and must bring in its partners. South Korea is a large market and is accessible by developing the infrastructure between the Russian Far East and shipping from Vladivostok to Busan. There is also the later potential of overland transportation through North Korea should the situation in Pyongyang change.”


Russia and South Korea stated at the end of 2019 that they were aiming for bilateral trade of about US$30 billion this year, although the Covid-19 outbreak will almost certainly delay that timeframe.  However,  South Korea is one of Russia’s major partners in the Asian-Pacific region. Mutual trade soared by almost 30 percent in 2018 to US$24.8 billion, with the Russian Far East accounting for 30% of the total. Shipping time from Vladivostok to Busan is 2.5 days, while from Vladivostok, South Korean exports can be loaded onto the Trans-Siberian to Europe. We have discussed these in the earlier article  The Trans-Siberian Land Bridge – The Top Twenty Key Cities Linking Vladivostok To Europe .

An academic White Paper entitled “Economic Relations between Russia and South Korea in the New Northern Policy” and issued by the Korea Economic Institute of America can be downloaded here.

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