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U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk hailed Tuesday an announcement that a
long-delayed free trade agreement with South Korea will take effect next month,
saying the deal will strengthen Washington's economic partnership with
South Korea and the U.S. have agreed to implement the free trade pact on March 15, officials said. The deal was signed in 2007 and approved by legislatures of the two nations last year, but still faces strong resistance in South Korea.
"Entry into force of this agreement will open up Korea's $1 trillion economy for America's workers, businesses, farmers and ranchers while also strengthening our economic partnership with a key Asia-Pacific ally," Kirk said in a statement.
On March 15, the trade representative said almost 80 percent of U.S. exports of industrial products to Korea will become duty-free, including aerospace equipment, agricultural equipment, auto parts, building products and chemicals.
In addition, almost two-thirds of American exports to Korea of agricultural products will become duty-free, including wheat, corn and wine.
"The agreement will promote the further integration of the U.S. and Korean economies and enhance the competitiveness of U.S. businesses in the world's 12th largest economy," the statement said.
In a separate statement, a U.S. business lobby group applauded the planned implementation of the free trade deal with Korea.
"The U.S. business community commends our negotiators for staying the course on implementing a groundbreaking trade deal with South Korea that will create American jobs and boost American competitiveness," said Thomas Donohue, president and chief executive of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
"We will now be able to play on a level playing field in South Korea's dynamic market and start creating tens of thousands of new jobs here at home," Donohue said in a statement.