South Korea said Friday that it will start negotiations to join a U.S.-led trade pact covering a dozen Pacific and Asian nations. The finance ministry said in a statement that officials will explore the possibility of joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership through the preliminary negotiations.
Export-reliant South Korea has free trade deals with the U.S. and the European Union. It is negotiating a free trade deal with China, which is not part of the U.S.-led pact.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership is not in effect yet, but the U.S. and other countries hope for an agreement by the end of this year. Apart from reducing trade barriers, the pact also requires its members to meet environmental, labor and intellectual property standards.