WASHINGTON - South Korea will monitor Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations while it pursues competing free trade pacts with Asian partners, but Seoul hopes the various regional trade agreements will one day merge, Trade Minister Taeho Bark said on Wednesday.

The proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) pact is a pillar of Washington's efforts to help propel US economic growth. The US partners are Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Peru, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam and Brunei.

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South Korea, which is studying the idea of joining the TPP, feels it can wait out early rounds, now that a bilateral Korea-US free trade agreement has been implemented, Bark said in a speech in Washington.