South Korea and China have initialed a Free Trade Agreement (FTA).
The South Korea's Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said Wednesday that delegations of the two countries exchanged documents initialing the South Korea-China FTA early in the day via diplomatic channels, according to Korea's (KBS WORLD) website.
According to the initiating document, China will abolish tariffs on 91 percent of import items from South Korea within 20 years.
South Korea will also lift tariffs on 92 percent of Chinese import items within the same period, but Chinese agricultural products have been excluded from the measure.
The ministry said that it has tried to ensure the facilitation of South Korean manufacturers' entry into the Chinese market, in particular for companies seen as future growth engines.
It said the agreement has also paved the way for South Korea's farming industry to gain a foothold in the Chinese market while protecting South Korean farmers from the expected growth of Chinese imports.
The government said that within the first half of the year it will come up with additional protective measures for small local companies that could be affected by the FTA.
The two countries are expected to officially sign the agreement within the first half of the year. The pact will require parliamentary approval from both countries before it takes effect.
An official of the ministry said it will push for swift ratification at the National Assembly in order to accelerate the benefit to the local economy.
The two countries struck the agreement in November and finalized negotiations early this month.