Canada, South Korea trade deal
South Korea is the first nation in the Asia-Pacific region with which Canada has a free trade agreement. The deal was inked by Prime Minister Stephen Harper and South Korean President Park Geun-hye, following a decade of on-again, off-again negotiations.
The Canadian government homepage praised South Korea as a reliable partner, citing its role as a major economic player in its own right and a key market for North America. It said the deal would serve as a gateway for Canadian businesses and workers into the dynamic Asia-Pacific region as a whole.
"For getting a foothold in terms of free trade in the Asia Pacific, there's just no better and no more ideal partner than the Republic of Korea," Harper said in a statement during a joint news conference.
The agreement is expected to create thousands of new jobs in both nations. The Canadian government argued the accord would boost the national economy by $1.7 billion (1.3 billion euros) and increase Canadian exports by 32 percent.
Harper said co-operation with South Korea dated back more than 60 years to Canada's participation in the Korean War. He added that in energy and a number of other sectors, working closer together could help the two nations play a pivotal role globally.
South Korea has inked a number of free trade deals in recent years. It recently signed such accords with the European Union and the United States.
hg/cjc (dpa, Reuters)