ASEAN, S Korea to sign FTA

Boracay, May 12:

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) hopes to sign a free trade agreement with South Korea when economic ministers meet Saturday in the Philippine resort island of Boracay.

The proposed agreement could be signed at the close of the three-day meeting of ASEAN economic ministers, but “everything is tentative,” trade department officials said. Delegates from ASEAN countries Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam are holding a working retreat in Boracay to speed up regional economic integrationn. A meeting of senior economic officials originally scheduled in Boracay on Saturday had to be rescheduled for Manila after tropical storm

Chanchu forced the cancellation of all ferry trips to the island. However the remaining talks will resume on Boracay after the weather clears. Details of the ASEAN-South Korea FTA have

yet to be finalized.

South Korea and ASEAN signed an agreement last December to start phasing in a free-trade agreement from July this year, but talks hit a snag in March over tariffs on food products for ASEAN and automobiles, steel and mobile phones for South Korea.