Obama welcomes trade accord with South Korea

Obama welcomes trade accord with South Korea

WASHINGTON - Agence France-Presse
U.S. President Barack Obama called his South Korean counterpart Lee Myung-bak on March 14 to welcome the beginning of a long-delayed free trade agreement, the White House said.

Obama thanked Lee for “Korea’s close cooperation in getting the agreement implemented,” and stressed it was a strong example of the two country’s partnership, the White House said in a statement.

The deal -which was to set to go into force at midnight yesterday in both countries- was originally signed in July 2007 but was approved by the U.S. Congress only last October after a partial renegotiation dealing mainly with the auto industry. South Korea’s parliament approved the free trade pact in November despite vehement protests from opposition lawmakers.

Supporters in both countries said the deal would strengthen economic and security ties between Seoul and its closest ally.

Two-way trade was worth $88 billion in 2010 and the U.S. International Trade Commission has estimated that Korean exports to the United States would increase by $6.4-$6.9 billion annually.