Colombian ambassador Tito Saul Pinilla says the ratification of a free trade agreement (FTA) with South Korea will give his country a foothold in East Asia.
The trade pact entered force last Friday (15 July) and will see the elimination of tariffs on goods subject to bilateral trade over the next ten years, according to Business Korea.
South Korea becomes the first Asian country to enter an FTA with the Latin American nation. Pinilla told the Korea Times the deal signified the "strongest step to diversify trade in Asia," with the move set to open up new opportunities for Colombia’s agricultural sector.
When South Korea’s National Assembly approved the FTA in 2014, Pinilla anticipated the deal would boost trade throughout the Asian region. “Given that Korea is close to China, Japan and Indonesia, Colombian farmers and businesspeople are expected to have more access to these economies as well, once the trade pact goes into effect,” he explained.
South Korea currently has free trade agreements in place with fellow Latin American countries Chile and Peru. The Asian nation’s exports to Colombia were valued at US$1.1bn last year, according to the Korea Times, with imports totalling US$800m.
Colombia has the third largest population in Latin America (47.6 m) while its GDP of US$377.9bn is the fourth largest in the region.