The Association of Southeast Asian Nations has signed a free trade agreement with South Korea.
ASEAN Secretary General Ong Keng Yong said today the signatories agreed to liberalize trade to boost the exchange of goods on both sides.
He said Thailand did not sign the agreement, however, because it has not resolved its dispute with South Korea over whether rice should be included in the agreement. Bangkok wants rice to be part of the deal, as it is one of Thailand's main exports.
The agreement was signed in Manila during a three-day conference of ASEAN trade ministers.
ASEAN ministers also held talks with European Union trade chief Peter Mandelson. The two sides agreed to pursue plans for a separate free trade agreement.
They did not discuss Europe's concerns about Burma's poor human rights records, but Ong said the issue could pose a problem in the future.
Information for this report is provided by AP and AFP.