When signing their bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) in February 2015, South Korea (Korea, hereafter) and China called the deal a historic milestone in deepening their strategic cooperative partnership and expected it to bring about practical benefits for both countries. The China–Korea FTA seems to generate low impact, however, because of its narrow coverage and tenuous commitments. Korea has taken a passive position regarding the FTA in response to the strong objections from its agricultural sector, and China has promoted the FTA in light of political considerations, then hurried to conclude negotiations for inclusion in the Beijing 2014 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Leaders’ Meeting. This study is the first academic assessment of the China–Korea FTA based on the Chapters and Appendices that both countries have signed. Major elements of the FTA, including its narrow coverage, are analyzed qualitatively. We also provide a quantitative assessment based on tariff liberalization commitments. Finally, the study discusses the policy implications of the China–Korea FTA for economic integration in East Asia and the Asia-Pacific region.

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