Visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping and his South Korean counterpart, Park Geun-hye, vowed Thursday to endeavor to finish the negotiations of a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) before the end of 2014.
The two leaders made the pledge while praising the progress the two countries have made in reaching a high-level and comprehensive FTA, according to a joint statement issued after their meeting Thursday.
China and South Korea launched the FTA negotiations in May 2012 and have conducted more than 10 rounds of talks.
The FTA, when finalized, is expected to help the two countries improve mutual complementarity of markets and strengthen the foundation for regional economic integration.
China and South Korea also pledged to promote bilateral trade amid the instability of the world economy and expand trade volume to 300 billion U.S. dollars in 2015, the statement said.
Trade between the two countries surpassed $270 billion in 2013, an increase of 7 percent year on year, equaling South Korea's trade volume with the United States and Japan combined.
China is South Korea's No.1 trading partner, largest export destination and import source, and No.1 destination of overseas investment. South Korea is China's third largest trading partner and fifth largest source of foreign direct investment.
The Chinese president arrived here Thursday for a two-day state visit to South Korea, his first trip to the Asian neighbor since he took office last year.
(Xinhua News Agency July 3, 2014)