South Korea, China pledge to ratify and put into effect FTA by year-end

SEOUL, Oct 31 (Reuters) – South Korean President Park Geun-hye and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang pledged on Saturday to push for the ratification of their free trade deal and put it into effect by the end of the year, Park’s office said.

The South Korean parliament has begun a review of the pact, which could face tough scrutiny by liberal opposition concerned about the impact of a market opening to China’s agricultural and fisheries products.

China’s National People’s Congress has also yet to approve it.

The deal, reached a year ago and signed in June, will eliminate tariffs on $73 billion in South Korea’s exports to China and $42 billion of its imports from China.

China is South Korea’s largest trading partner. South Korea is China’s third largest.

South Korea said China agreed on Saturday to boost by 50 percent a quota on its investment in the Chinese stock and bond markets and to push for an early start of direct yuan-won trading in China under a separate agreement.

China and South Korea established diplomatic ties in 1992. Their bilateral trade grew 37-fold to $235.4 billion in 2014 from $6.4 billion then, according to South Korean data.

Li is on an official visit to South Korea and on Sunday will participate in the first three-way summit of South Korea, China and Japan in more than three years, joined by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

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