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Implementation of KORUS FTA may be delayed: minister

The free trade agreement between South Korea and the United States may take effect behind schedule as it will take more time for both countries to prepare for its implementation, Seoul‘s top trade official said Thursday.

South Korea’s ruling Grand National Party forced the contested FTA through parliament late last month. The deal was approved by the U.S. Congress in October. The two countries had set a Jan. 1 target for the pact to take effect.

“Both sides are working to prepare for the implementation of the trade pact ... but it will take more time to complete procedures,” South Korean Trade Minister Kim Jong-hoon said in a forum.

But the two countries will work hard to implement the pact at the agreed-upon date.

Earlier, the trade ministry said the exact time table for the implementation will be determined in mid-December, the official said.

The free trade accord, known as the KORUS FTA, was supplemented in late December with minor modifications that mostly dealt with the auto industry.

Two-way trade between South Korea, Asia‘s fourth-largest economy, and the United States reached some US$90 billion last year, according to the Seoul government.

The KORUS FTA will help the Asian country’s economy expand more than 5 percent in the long term as it will lead to more exports by reducing trade barriers, a study showed. The deal will also create about 350,000 jobs, helping to ease tightened labor market conditions here, according to the report compiled by 10 local think tanks.

The report predicted that South Korea will see its trade surplus with the U.S. increase by $140 million annually over the next 15 years after the FTA goes into effect. The nation‘s total global trade surplus will expand by an annual average of $2.77 billion, the report showed. (Yonhap News)
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