The presidents of Mexico and the Republic of Korea, Enrique Peña Nieto and Park Geun-hye, have set a timeline for negotiations for a free-trade agreement between the two countries.
After meeting with Park, Peña Nieto said that formal negotiations will begin in the fourth quarter of 2016, expanding commerce and opening a potential market of 50 million people to both countries.
He also said that Mexico supports Korea joining the Transpacific Partnership (TPP).
“We will pursue alternatives, like helping Korea join the TPP, and starting negotiations for a possible bilateral free trade area, which would open a market of 50 million people for us. The series of agreements reaffirm the bond of collaboration and friendship between Korea and Mexico.”
After the official welcoming ceremony in the National Palace, Peña Nieto and Park met in private. They then jointly signed 17 documents of mutual understanding, one of which agrees to the creation of a binational committee to promote commerce, investment and cooperation in the energy and industry sectors, and two new lines of credit: one for one billion dollars, for the development of electrical infrastructure, and the other for 200 million dollars, to finance Mexican companies that provide for Korean industry.
The president of Mexico noted that in the year 2000, total commerce between Mexico and Korea was 4 billion dollars, and that in 2015, it was 17.5 billion dollars, while Korean investment in Mexico increased 24-fold in that same period.
“Thanks to this dynamic, the Republic of Korea is Mexico’s sixth-largest commercial partner and our second-largest source of investment from Asia,” said Peña Nieto during a banquet at the National Palace.
He noted that there are more than Korean 1,700 companies present in Mexico, all of which contribute to job creation, regional development, technological advancement, productivity and above all, the production of wealth in Mexico.
The president of Korea, Park Geun-hye, thanked Mexico’s support for Korea’s bid to enter the TPP, and said that the economic relationship between the two countries would grow significantly. She expressed that although Mexico is already Korea’s largest Latin American trading partner, there is potential to further increase trade and investment.
I consider it significant that we have agreed to meet in the fourth trimester of the year to begin bilateral discussions to sign a free trade agreement and clarify the support of Mexico for the entry of Korea into the TPP. I hope that this meeting will yield favorable results,” she said.
In her first visit to Mexico, the Korean president stressed the agreement between the two governments to promote various policies related to establishing Korean small and medium enterprizes (PyMES) in Mexico, and Mexican PyMES in Korea, to facilitate the construction of online distribution channels, and to widen cooperation in standardization and accreditation.
Park said that the countries have agreed to diversify their cooperation, focusing on high value-added sectors based on the creative economy, in which both countries will look for ways to mutually profit.
“With this, we hope to promote trade in consumer goods, in addition to raw materials,” she said.
They also agreed to expand lines of credit and commercial insurance, and to allow private Korean banks to open offices in Mexico.
“This agreement will renew the growth of trade and investment between our countries, and reinforce the presence of the Korean private sector in Mexico,” he said.
Mexico is Korea’s most important commercial partner in Latin America, and is one of the ten most important destinations for Korean products. In 2015, there was more than 14 billion dollars of trade between the two countries.
Mexico condemns the development and use of nuclear weapons and nuclear weapons tests by any country, affirmed president Peña Nieto.
He said that nuclear tests violate resolutions by the UN Security Council, as well as undermining confidence and creating tension between countries.
“Nuclear disarmament is a fundamental condition for the future of humanity,” he said.
Park thanked Peña Nieto for his cooperation with the Republic of Korea to discourage the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea from developing nuclear weapons, by adopting measures to put pressure on Pyongyang, such as the exhaustive implementation of UN Resolution 2270.
She assured Peña Nieto that the Republic of Korea is grateful to Mexico, who, adopting a position of zero tolerance for nuclear weapons, has actively participated in the efforts of the international community to resolve the nuclear issue in North Korea.
“The two heads of state will continue with our alliance not only on a bilateral level, but also in the global stage, with the goal of nuclear disarmament in the Korean Peninsula,” she concluded.