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November 7, 2009

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S. Korea approves free trade pact with India

South Korea yesterday approved a free trade deal with India that promises to give two of Asia's powerhouse economies vastly expanded access to each other's markets.

The National Assembly of South Korea approved the deal with a 192-0 vote. Five lawmakers abstained.

The two countries signed the accord, known officially as the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, in August.

Trade between India and South Korea -- Asia's third- and fourth-largest economies -- has grown steadily in the past decade and reached US$15.6 billion last year. In 2002, it amounted to just US$2.6 billion.

Under the agreement, tariffs on Indian goods will be abolished or slashed by 90 percent, while those on South Korean products will be gradually cut by 85 percent over 10 years, according to South Korea.

India has already completed all procedures for the agreement to take effect, said Rajasekhar Chinthapally, minister for economic affairs at the Indian Embassy in Seoul.

He said international treaties do not require parliamentary approval in India and can be decided by the Cabinet.


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