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South Korea, Canada reach free trade agreement

Staff writer |
The South Korea and Canada free trade agreement puts an end to nearly a decade of talks and marks Canada's first free-trade foray into the Asia-Pacific region, which the Conservatives have targeted as essential for the country's economic well-being.

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Free trade agreement will eliminate virtually all tariffs between the countries, with Korea cutting 81.9 per cent of duties upon the first day of the deal coming into force, and Canada removing 76.4 per cent of levies. Some tariffs, particularly in agriculture, will take more than a dozen years be fully phased out.

Government documents noted that Canadian firms stand to make gains because South Korean tariffs currently average about three times Canada's,– 13.3 per cent as opposed to 4.3 per cent respectively. Officials say the pact is fully fleshed and not an agreement in principle, as was the case with the European Union deal, and could come into effect within a year.

The agreement doesn't involve sub-national procurement, so Ottawa will not require provincial approval. Media was briefed on the details simultaneously in Ottawa and Seoul.

Stakeholders representing the aerospace, pork and beef industries present at the Ottawa briefing were enthusiastic with what the elimination of South Korean tariff potentially could mean for their producers.

According to the government release, the deal is expected to increase Canadian exports to South Korea by 32 per cent and expand the economy by $1.7 billion.

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