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Korean Cabinet Approves Free Trade Deal with Colombia
�� �� South Korea's Cabinet approved on Tuesday a free trade deal with Colombia, a process required before it is formally signed and ratified.

After rounds of talks since late 2009, Seoul and Bogota concluded the deal in June last year and initialed it two months later. It has yet to be formally signed by the two governments and ratified by their respective legislatures.

"Upon the Cabinet approval, the two countries are expected to formally sign the deal within this month, and to seek a legislative approval from each country's parliament," a foreign ministry official said, adding the pact is expected to go into effect in the first half of this year.

Lee Yoon-young (R), the FTA negotiation director of South Korea's foreign ministry, and his Colombian counterpart Javier Gamboa pose for a photo during a ceremony in Seoul on Aug. 31, 2012, to initial a free trade agreement between the two countries. (Yonhap file photo)

Under the deal, the two countries 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, according to foreign ministry officials.

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 only about US$2 billion in 2011, but the South American country bears high growth potential, the officials said.

Being considered as one of the major emerging markets in the world, along with Indonesia, Vietnam, Turkey and others, Colombia is rich in oil and other natural resources and has been emerging as a free trade hub in Central and South America and making headway 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 in 2011.

Source Text

Source: Yonhap News (Feb. 5, 2013)

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