Money Matters - Simplified

S. Korea's Lee toasts free trade pact

Brussels -- South Korean President Lee Myung-bak said the free trade agreement with the European Union would set a positive example in the financial crisis.

Lee, along with European leaders, attended a signing ceremony for the pact in Brussels. He then said it would stand as an example of meeting the financial crisis with cooperation, rather than protectionism, the Yonhap news agency reported Wednesday.

"As the emergence of protectionism is feared in the process of the world overcoming the economic crisis, I am confident that the South Korea-EU FTA will become an exemplary case in expanding free trade and fostering sustainable economic growth," Lee said.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and EU President Herman Van Rompuy also attended the signing ceremony for the agreement that will eliminate tariffs on most goods traded between the EU and South Korea within three years.

The pact takes effect July 1.

Korean researchers have said the pact would increase exports to Europe by $2.5 billion per year through 2025. Imports were expected to grow by $2.1 billion during the period, researcher said.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI).

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