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South Korea plans to file application for TPP membership by May 

Asahi and Nikkei reported on remarks made on Wednesday by South Korean Deputy Prime Minister Hong Nam-ki, who said the ROK government will file an application for TPP membership before President Moon steps down in early May. The official reportedly said Seoul has already begun bilateral preparatory talks with the 11 member states and that many of them have welcomed South Korea’s bid. He added, however, that Japan is “not enthusiastic due to the existence of other problems,” suggesting that the bilateral history disputes and Tokyo’s tighter export control of Korea-bound products apparently stand in the way of Seoul joining the regional free trade deal. The paper added that the Moon administration is anxious to participate in the TPP out of concern that it may become isolated in East Asia on the trade front in view of the membership applications filed earlier by China and Taiwan.  

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