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South Korea says US trade pact to take effect in March

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image South Korean Trade Minister Park Tae-ho

South Korea and the United States have agreed that their long-delayed free trade agreement will take effect on March 15, Seoul’s trade ministry said yesterday. The deal was signed in July 2007 but approved by the US Congress only last October after a partial renegotiation dealing mainly with the auto industry. South Korea’s parliament approved the free trade pact last November despite vehement protests from opposition lawmakers, one of whom set off a tear gas canister in the chamber.
The main opposition party has urged President Barack Obama to renegotiate the deal. Otherwise, it says it will withdraw from the pact if it takes power following a parliamentary and presidential election this year. Supporters say the deal will strengthen both economic and security ties between Seoul and its closest ally.
Two-way trade was worth $88 billion in 2010 and the US International Trade Commission has estimated that Korean exports to the United States would increase by $6.4-$6.9 billion annually. Export-dependent South Korea already has trade deals in force with the European Union, India, Chile, Peru, Singapore and the European Free Trade Association (Liechtenstein, Iceland, Norway, and Switzerland).


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