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South Korea and Colombia initialed a free trade deal Friday which will help boost bilateral trade by removing tariffs, officials said.
The free trade pact is expected to go into effect in the first half of 2013 after winning legislative approval from both countries, they said.
Under the deal, Seoul and Bogota agreed to eliminate tariffs on 96.1 percent of Colombian goods and 96.7 percent of South Korean goods within 10 years after the pact takes effect.
As part of the deal, Colombia, which currently imposes a 35 percent duty on auto imports from South Korea, would scrap all tariffs on South Korean automobiles within 10 years.
South Korea's trade volume with
Colombia amounted to about US$2 billion last year, a small amount compared to
other major trading partners.
The country has high growth potential,
however, and is considered one of the major emerging markets in the world, along
with Indonesia, Vietnam, Turkey and others, officials said.
Colombia is also rich in oil and other natural resources and has been emerging as a free trade hub in Central and South America with aggressive efforts to seek free trade agreements.
South Korea has an FTA with Chile, which took effect in 2004, and struck a free trade deal with Peru last August, paving the way to tap deeper into the South American market.