S. Korea, China sign free trade deal

June 1, 2015
Chinese Commerce Minister Gao Hucheong, left, poses with his South Korean counterpart Yoon Sang-jick after signing documents for FTA or Free Trade Agreement during a signing ceremony in Seoul, South Korea Monday, June 1, 2015. South Korea and China signed a free trade deal that will remove tariffs on more than 90 percent of goods over two decades.The letters at back ground read "Free Trade Agreement signing ceremony between South Korea and China. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

Chinese Commerce Minister Gao Hucheong, left, poses with his South Korean counterpart Yoon Sang-jick after signing documents for FTA or Free Trade Agreement during a signing ceremony in Seoul, South Korea Monday, June 1, 2015. South Korea and China signed a free trade deal that will remove tariffs on more than 90 percent of goods over two decades.The letters at back ground read “Free Trade Agreement signing ceremony between South Korea and China. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea and China signed a free trade deal Monday that will remove tariffs on more than 90 percent of goods over two decades.

Trade ministers from the two countries met in Seoul to sign the pact between two of Asia’s biggest economies.

The agreement covers 22 areas including finance and online commerce but won’t include rice and autos.

South Korea’s trade ministry said the deal would boost the country’s gross domestic product by nearly 1 percentage point and create more than 50,000 jobs in the decade after its implementation.

The agreement will give South Korea’s small- and medium-sized companies wider access to the Chinese market while boosting China’s investment in South Korea, the ministry said.

It was the first time for China to include finance, telecommunications and e-commerce industries in a free trade deal, according to South Korea.

South Korea’s rice industry is not part of the pact but trade in 70 percent of agricultural goods will be liberalized.

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