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S. Korea's overseas construction orders jump 31 pct in Q1

SEJONG, March 31 (Yonhap) -- Overseas construction orders clenched by South Korean builders jumped more than 30 percent in the first quarter from a year earlier on a significant rise in the number of orders for industrial plants, the government said Monday. In the first three months of the year, overseas orders reached US$17.6 billion, up 31 percent from the same period last year, according to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport. The amount marks the second highest on record for the January-March period.

S. Korea, Mexico to launch economic cooperation committee

SEJONG, March 31 (Yonhap) -- South Korea and Mexico have agreed to launch a committee to beef up bilateral economic cooperation, the finance ministry said Monday. The agreement was reached in Brazil on Sunday (local time) between Finance Minister Hyun Oh-seok and his Mexican counterpart, Luis Videgaray. They were attending an annual meeting of the Inter-American Development Bank. The so-called economic cooperation committee will be launched in the second half of this year at the earliest and take comprehensive government-level cooperation measures, the ministry said.

Over 12 pct of S. Korean population aged 65 or older: data

SEJONG, March 27 (Yonhap) -- Senior citizens in South Korea accounted for more than 12 percent of the country's total population last year, data showed Thursday, indicating that population is aging at a fast pace. According to the data by Statistics Korea, 12.2 percent of the country's 50.2 million population were aged 65 or older in 2013, which is higher than the 11.8 percent tallied in 2012 and much higher than 3.8 percent in 1980. The agency expected that percentage to further increase to 24.3 percent by 2030 and 32.3 percent by 2040, respectively.

S. Korea's trade volume more than doubles since first FTA

SEJONG, March 27 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's trade volume has more than doubled in the 10 years since the country implemented its first-ever free trade agreement (FTA) with Chile, a local trade organization said Thursday. The country enacted its FTA with Chile 10 years ago on April 1. The deal had prompted a wide range of concerns at the time over the possible fallout for the country's farmers and agricultural market, along with much doubt over its much-advertised benefits.

S. Korea's economy remains on recovery track: minister

SEJONG, March 26 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's economy remains on a recovery track, with employment and output picking up, but vigilance is required against risk factors that could hamper growth, the finance minister said Wednesday. "The economic recovery trend seems to be continuing in terms of employment, industrial output and investment in the construction sector," Finance Minister Hyun Oh-seok told reporters during a meeting in the administrative city some 120 km south of Seoul.

Australian PM to visit S. Korea next month

SEOUL, March 25 (Yonhap) -- Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott will visit South Korea next month for summit talks with President Park Geun-hye and the signing of a free trade agreement between the countries, Park's office said Tuesday. Abbott, who is due to arrive in Seoul on April 8 for a two-day official visit, will meet with Park on the same day to discuss developments in their countries' bilateral ties and ways to further boost their relations, the office said in a press release.

Prime minister renews call for legislation of nuclear safety act

SEOUL, March 23 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's prime minister on Sunday renewed his call for the legislation of a revision to the nuclear safety act that would reflect international treaties signed two years earlier here in Seoul. The renewed call came one day before South Korean President Park Geun-hye is set to attend what will be the third Nuclear Security Summit.

S. Korea, Japan to hold three-way summit with US

South Korea and Japan will hold a three-way summit with the United States next week, Seoul said Friday, in a breakthrough after Washington urged the pair to mend badly strained ties. The meeting in The Hague, on the sidelines of an international nuclear conference, will mark the first formal talks between President Park Geun-Hye and Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe since they took office more than a year ago, Yonhap news agency said.

S. Korea, Japan discussing talks on wartime sex slavery

SEOUL, March 21 (Yonhap) -- South Korea and Japan are discussing holding director-level talks on ways to resolve grievances of Korean women sexually enslaved by Japanese soldiers during World War II, the foreign ministry said Friday, signaling a possible breakthrough in their strained bilateral relations. The issue of the Japanese military's past sexual enslavement of Korean and other Asian women has been in the center of the neighbors' diplomatic feud, as Tokyo has attempted to deny and whitewash the wartime sexual atrocities.

Ministers urge swift passage of renewed defense cost pact

SEOUL, March 21 (Yonhap) -- The foreign and defense ministers visited the National Assembly Friday to urge the swift ratification of a revised pact on sharing the cost of keeping U.S. troops in South Korea. In January, the allies renewed their agreement on jointly shouldering the financial burden of keeping some 28,500 American forces here, but the agreement has been pending in parliament due to the objections of the main opposition party. The previous five-year deal expired at the end of last year.
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