S. Korea to hold talks with participants of TPP negotiations

S. Korea to hold talks with participants of TPP negotiations

SEOUL, Nov. 29 (Xinhua) -- South Korea will hold bilateral talks with countries already joined in the U.S.-led Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations to get more information and review conditions for its participation, South Korea's finance minister said Friday.

"There is a need for the government to first express interest in joining the TPP and hold preliminary bilateral talks with countries already taking part," Yonhap news agency quoted Finance Minister Hyun Oh-seok as saying.

But Hyun added that this move doesn't mean that the country has

finally decided to join in TPP.

"As the country expresses its interest in joining the TPP today, it will seek to check the possibility of its participation through preliminary bilateral talks, but such a move will not be based on the premise that the country will, in fact, join the TPP," he said at a weekly meeting of economy-related ministers.

TPP, a multilateral trade pact in the Pacific region, groups 12 countries, namely Brunei, Chile, New Zealand, Singapore, the United States, Australia, Peru, Vietnam, Malaysia, Mexico, Canada and Japan.

TPP is a comprehensive but controversial free trade agreement that encompasses demanding rules on not only trade and economy, but also issues such as labor, environment and state- owned enterprises. It has also been criticized for the secretive talks.

In June, South Korea unveiled a new roadmap for trade policy under the Park Geun-hye government. Under the road map, Seoul aimed to become a linchpin of the regional economic integration in East Asia through a new FTA with China and the already signed deal with the United States.

It is also seeking actively participating in negotiations for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), a multilateral FTA that will include China, Japan, South Korea and the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, as well as India, Australia and New Zealand.