South Korea, Mexico agree to restart free trade discussions

One Pacific nation not involved in the Trans Pacific Partnership is working on a trade agreement of its own with one of the pact's member countries.

South Korea has expressed interest in joining TPP, and should the deal be implemented there's a chance that Seoul could work its way into conversations about an expansion. For now though, the Asian country remains on the outside looking in. However, South Korea already has free trade deals in place with many of the TPP member nations, and soon it could add another one of the 12 countries to its list of free trade partners. The country's president recently indicated that Seoul is interested in discussing a bilateral trade deal with Mexico.

President Park expresses interest in free trade deal
President Park Geun-hye took a trip to Mexico in early April and while there she hinted at an interest in developing an agreement with her country's top Latin American trade partner. The two countries began talking about a trade deal in 2007, The Korea Times explained. But those discussions were derailed following opposition from the Mexican automobile industry. South Korea hopes that the two countries can restart free trade negotiations, though.

"I think it's meaningful for South Korea and Mexico to sign a free trade agreement to expand trade and investment and strengthen economic cooperation," Park said, according to the publication.

The South Korean president believes that although Mexico is a signatory on TPP, a free trade deal with her country makes sense because the 12-nation trade agreement is still a long way off from being implemented, Reuters explained. She added that an agreement would provide Mexico with improved access to Northeastern Asia, and South Korea with more inroads to North America and Latin America.

President Enrique Pe a Nieto, Park's Latin American counterpart, agreed to restart stalled trade negotiations, the Chosun Ilbo reported. For some time, the idea of working out such an agreement wasn't very appealing because TPP was in the works. However, the massive Pacific Rim free trade deal has proven controversial, and is currently at a standstill within the governments of several member nations. With the status of the agreement gummed up in the U.S. Congress and no clear path in sight for TPP, the Mexican government seems to have decided that a deal with South Korea is worth pursuing.

TPP offers Mexico extensive access to Asian markets
Should TPP get approved by all of its member nations, though, Mexico will have wide open access to a variety of Asian markets. The other member countries are Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, the U.S., New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam and Japan. Mexico is already a member of the North American Free Trade Agreement along with the U.S. and Canada, and may soon join a deal that will cover close to 40 percent of the world gross domestic product.