China and South Korea have agreed to further boost the Belt & Road Initiative with the New South & New North Policies, and upgrade the quality of bilateral economic and trade cooperation, with free trade agreement negotiations and the timely signature of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) to be pushed forward.

The two sides held a meeting in Qingdao, East China’s Shandong Province on Saturday, the first face-to-face meeting of the intergovernmental economic and trade cooperation mechanism since the pandemic began.

They exchanged in-depth views and reached a broad consensus on promoting the development of China-South Korea economic and trade relations and relevant regional and multilateral economic and trade cooperation in the context of virus prevention and control, according to a statement published by the Ministry of Commerce on Monday.

The meeting actively advanced the second phase of negotiations on the China-South Korea free trade agreement, accelerated the formulation of the joint plan for South Korea’s economic and trade cooperation (2021-25), and upgraded the quality of bilateral economic and trade cooperation, the statement read.

Both sides have agreed to deepen trade and investment cooperation and explore more trade areas to provide a fair, just and non-discriminatory business environment in which companies from both countries can Invest and Operate.

Governments on both sides agreed to continue making solid progress on jointly building China-South Korea Industrial Parks.

They said they would push for the signature of the RCEP this year as scheduled and advance negotiations on the China-Japan-South Korea Free Trade Agreement, upholding the multilateral trading system and jointly promoting the construction of an open world economy.