SEOUL, South Korea and the South American trade block Mercosur will launch their formal trade negotiations in Uruguay to facilitate commerce and investment between the two sides, the Seoul government said Monday.

A South Korean delegation will attend the first talks with representatives from four Mercosur member states -- Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay -- in Montevideo from Sept. 11-15, the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said.

Venezuela was expelled from the bloc in 2016 for failing to meet its basic standards.

The Seoul government said a trade deal with Mercosur is expected to enhance Korean companies' market access to the fast-growing Latin American economies and expand South Korea's trade network beyond North America and Central America.

South Korea exported US$6.6 billion worth of goods to Mercosur states in 2017, up 20.6 percent from a year earlier, mostly on electronics parts and autos. The nation imported $4.52 billion from the South American nations, purchasing agricultural products and steel, according to the ministry.

Mercosur, which means Southern Common Market in Spanish, has a total population of 290 million people, and its economic size is estimated at US$2.7 trillion. The subregional economic bloc accounts for 45 percent and 52 percent of the South American continent's population and gross domestic product, respectively, according to the ministry.

Source: Yonhap News Agency