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Park calls for quick ratification of FTA with Colombia

All Headlines 14:54 April 18, 2015

By Kim Kwang-tae

BOGOTA, April 18 (Yonhap) -- South Korean President Park Geun-hye has called for quick ratification of a free trade agreement (FTA) with Colombia to further boost bilateral trade in the second day of her visit to the South American country.

The sides clinched an FTA in February 2013, but opposition mainly from the automobile sector in Colombia has delayed the domestic ratification process.

Colombia's Constitutional Court has yet to approve the deal, while South Korea's parliament has completed its ratification.

"President Santos and I are on the same page for the need to make efforts to share the benefits of free trade and to further expand trade volume," Park said Friday in a joint news conference with Santos after their summit at the presidential palace.

Trade volume between the two countries stood at US$2.1 billion in 2014, up 36 percent from a year earlier.

Santos said the free trade deal would bring much benefit to his country in the agriculture sector as South Korea is a major importer of agricultural products and Colombia can meet Seoul's demand.

Park and Santos observed the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on cooperation in e-commerce, a move that Seoul says could help South Korean companies make inroads into Colombia's e-commerce market and boost bilateral trade.

The worth of Colombia's e-commerce market grew to 70 billion won ($64 million) in 2013, up from 15 billion won in 2008. Colombia's e-commerce market has significant growth potential due to the expanding use of personal computers and mobile devices.

South Korea and Colombia also signed more than a dozen separate MOUs, which call for cooperation, among other things, in electric vehicles.

Colombia is pushing to introduce electric buses in Bogota and other major cities to help reduce greenhouse gases largely responsible for global warming.

Park also proposed to Santos that South Korean companies should participate in building a subway system in Bogota and in solar energy and electric car projects.

Colombia plans to start a bidding process this year for an estimated $7.6 billion subway system in the capital.

Colombian officials said they welcome South Korea's participation in building the subway system and other infrastructure projects, including the one to modernize oil refinery plants.


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