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South Korea in final approval of EU trade deal

image captionSouth Korea is Asia's fourth largest economy

South Korea's parliament has ratified a free trade agreement with the European Union, clearing the last hurdle for the deal to take effect in July.

The pact is expected to boost the value of trade in goods between South Korea and the EU to about 100bn euros (£84bn).

The deal will lift most tariffs and trade barriers within the next five years.

South Korea has also signed a free-trade pact with the US.

The ruling Grand National Party (GNP) pushed through the free trade agreement, with the opposition Democratic Party boycotting the vote.

"We expect the deal to create 250,000 jobs, which is the greatest form of welfare for working people, and contribute hugely to their lives by stabilising prices and improving income potentials," said Grand National Party spokesman Bae Eun-hee.

The Democratic Party boycott was over a dispute about safeguards for farmers and small business.

The European Parliament ratified the free-trade pact in February.

Competing pacts

image captionThe agreement was ratified despite protests from the main opposition party

South Korea and the EU first began discussions on a free trade agreement in 2007, the same year a deal was signed between South Korea and the US.

However, the US-South Korea deal has been delayed because of opposition in both countries.

In America, the beef and car industries are holding up discussions, where as in South Korea it is the farmers that are against the deal.

US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton said during a recent visit to Seoul that Washington was hoping to get the agreement ratified this year.

Both the EU and US are hoping to be the first to get access to the market in Asia's fourth-largest economy.

The EU is currently South Korea's fourth-largest trading partner, while the US is their fifth-largest.

More on this story

  • EU-South Korea trade deal backed by European Parliament

  • Commissioner: Deal will boost exports

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