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GCC and South Korea sign free trade agreement

South Korea GCC Wam
South Korea's President Yoon Suk Yeol discussing the Korea-GCC free trade deal with UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan in Abu Dhabi earlier this year
  • Trade up 56% in 2022
  • Forecast to climb again in 2023
  • Deal follows Pakistan FTA

South Korea and the GCC have signed a free trade agreement as the region continues to pivot eastwards for growth.

The agreement will cover trade in goods, services and government procurement, as well as cooperation among small and medium-sized enterprises, customs procedures and intellectual property, among other areas, according to a statement.

Trade between the GCC and South Korea totalled $46.6 billion in 2020, accounting for 78 percent of Seoul’s total trade with the wider Middle East.

Gulf-South Korea trade rose 56 percent to $78 billion in 2022 and is forecast to increase further this year.

The GCC’s trade with emerging and developing Asia, an International Monetary Fund grouping for 34 countries including China and India, surged by 34.7 percent to $516 billion in 2022, the think tank Asia House reported.

Freddie Neve, senior Middle East associate at Asia House, described the Middle East’s pivot to Asia as “one of the defining geopolitical and geo-economic shifts of our time”.

“It warrants greater attention and focus from global business and political leaders to capitalise on this growing opportunity.”

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