South Korea and China agreed to implement the bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) on Dec. 20, Seoul's foreign ministry said Wednesday.
The two nations continued negotiations to rapidly implement the FTA after Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and South Korean President Park Geun-hye shared views of the implementation within this year on Oct. 31 when the two leaders met in Seoul on the sidelines of the trilateral summit meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
China and South Korea completed respective local procedures necessary for the FTA implementation as rapidly as possible to maximize the benefits for companies from the free trade accord, the ministry said.
The two sides signed the FTA in June after three years of negotiations. The negotiations on the free trade accord, which began in May 2012, were held 14 times before reaching an agreement.
Under the deal, Seoul and Beijing will eliminate tariffs on more than 90 percent of traded goods each within 20 years after the implementation.
South Korea expected the bilateral FTA with China to raise its real GDP by 0.96 percentage points, create 53,800 jobs and enhance consumer benefits by 14.6 billion U.S. dollars.
The country also predicted an increase in exports to China thanks to lower tariffs and price competitiveness in the world's largest consumer market.