[JURIST] South Korea and China on Monday signed a bilateral free trade agreement that will eliminate most tariffs between the two countries over the next two decades. After approximately three years of negotiations, Chinese Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng and South Korean Trade Minister Yoon Sang-jick [official profiles] signed the agreement [The Diplomat report] in Seoul, South Korea, which will remove tariffs on approximately 90 percent of goods traded between the two nations over the next 20 years. The agreement must now be voted on and passed by the legislatures of both countries before it can go into effect, though it is expected to be approved this year. The agreement does not include the trade of rice [AP report].
This agreement signifies just one of several steps that the leaders of South Korea and China have taken in order to strengthen their bond. While South Korea and China have experienced the most growth in their economic ties they have farther to go to establish a stronger military bond. Last month top leaders from the two nations met to bridge this gap, advocating [The Diplomat report] “for more military exchanges and defense cooperation between Beijing and Seoul.” Also last month South Korea and China, along with Japan, met [BBC report] to “ease tensions over territorial and diplomatic disputes.”