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S. Korea undecided on joining TPP: senior trade official

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

South Korea is undecided on joining the U.S.-led Trans-Pacific Partnership, a senior South Korean trade official said Thursday.

"A decision has not been made. We want to comprehensively review opinions from various local industries before making a final decision," Choi Kyung Lim, deputy minister for trade, industry and energy told a group of foreign correspondents.

On Monday, the Chosun Ilbo, a Seoul daily, quoted a high-ranking government official as saying that South Korea has decided to join the TPP and is studying the potential impact.

Another South Korean government official told the daily it is just "a matter of time" before South Korea joins the TPP.

Commenting on the report, Choi dismissed concerns that TPP membership could have a negative impact on relations with China. South Korea and China last week agreed on basic guidelines for free trade agreement talks.

According to the Chosun Ilbo, China worries that the U.S.-led free trade initiative will sideline it in the global race to access new markets.

The South Korean Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy dismissed the newspaper's report in a statement on Monday, saying, "The government's position on participating in the TPP has not yet been decided."

According to the statement, South Korea has merely studied the negotiations on the TPP, and the impact a South Korean membership might have on other free trade negotiations Seoul is conducting.

The TPP is a multilateral free trade agreement that aims to further liberalize the economies of 12 Pacific-rim countries, including Canada, Australia, Japan, Vietnam and Singapore.

==Kyodo

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/kyodo-news-international/130912/s-korea-undecided-joining-tpp-senior-trade-official