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South Korea will sign a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) this week with
Colombia, the fourth-largest economy in Latin America, the Seoul government said
The agreement will be signed Thursday at Seoul's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the ministry said. It will be South Korea's 10th free trade deal.
"The agreement will officially be signed this week as the countries completed taking necessary measures, such as a review by their respective offices of legislation and Cabinet, following a declaration to conclude the negotiations by the heads of the two states in June last year," the trade ministry said.
Colombia has so far signed 12 bilateral and multilateral trade deals with 59 countries, but South Korea will be the first Asian country to ink a free trade deal with the Latin American nation.
Colombia currently has the third-largest market in Latin America with a population of 46 million. The resource-rich country is also said to have some 1.9 billion barrels of oil in deposit and about 100 billion cubic meters of natural gas.
South Korea's bilateral trade with Colombia more than doubled in just three years from US$920 million in 2009 to $1.89 billion last year with $1.47 billion worth of South Korean products shipped to Colombia in 2012, according to the trade ministry.
The South Korea-Colombia FTA will remove import tariffs on 96.1 percent of South Korean goods shipped to Colombia and 96.7 percent of products shipped here from the Latin American country. A total of 151 products, mostly farm products, including South Korea's staple grain, rice, have been excluded from the list of items subject to tariff exemption.
Once signed, the free trade agreement will be submitted to the countries' respective legislatures for approval before it can be implemented.