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U.S. welcomes Seoul’s ratification of FTA

WASHINGTON (Yonhap News) ― U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk on Tuesday welcomed South Korea’s ratification of the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement and vowed close cooperation to put it into effect at an early date.

“The United States welcomes the Korean National Assembly’s approval of the KORUS FTA,” he said in a brief statement. “This is a win-win agreement that will provide significant economic and strategic benefits to both countries. We look forward to working closely with the government of Korea to bring the agreement into force as soon as possible.”

South Korea’s ruling Grand National Party rammed the trade pact through the National Assembly, using its majority despite fierce objections from liberal opposition parties that called for a renegotiation of the accord signed in 2007.

The U.S. Congress passed the pact last month and President Barack Obama signed a related bill into law.

The South Korean government said it hopes for the implementation of the FTA on Jan. 1, 2012.

“(We) plan to make utmost efforts so that the South Korea-U.S. FTA can go into effect on Jan. 1 next year as scheduled,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said.

The U.S., however, appeared more cautious about the timing.

“We, like Korea, will make our best efforts to get the FTA into force as quickly as possible, keeping in mind the goal of having the agreement enter into force as soon as possible in 2012,” a trade official told Yonhap News Agency on the condition of anonymity.
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