South Korea is preparing to launch talks on a free trade agreement with Vietnam as part of efforts to strengthen economic ties with the fast-growing market, the finance ministry said Monday.
The two countries last October finalized a joint study on the feasibility of such an agreement.
"Based on the results of the joint study, we are taking domestic procedures to launch FTA negotiations with Vietnam," the ministry said in a statement marking the 20th anniversary of diplomatic ties.
South Korea's exports to Vietnam stood at $13.6 billion last year.
The ministry said Seoul will try to include not just products, services and investment but other areas such as intellectual property rights in the talks.
The two countries will seek to expand cooperation in power plant construction and other areas, it said, and Seoul would support companies wishing to invest in Vietnam.
South Korea already has a free trade pact with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, of which Vietnam is a member, but wants to seal bilateral deals with some ASEAN countries.
The export-dependent nation has signed an array of trade deals covering much of the globe in recent years. An agreement with the United States has been ratified and is expected to come into force as soon as this month.
Seoul also has trade deals with the European Union, India, Chile, Peru, Singapore and the European Free Trade Association.