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Leaders of Korea, Australia sign bilateral free trade agreement
APRIL 09, 2014 01:31  
South Korean President Park Geun-hye and Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott held a summit Tuesday at the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul and officially signed bilateral trade agreement. This marks Korea`s 11th bilateral free trade agreement, and the effectuation of a treaty will eliminate tariffs on Korean automobiles, consumer electronics and petrochemicals in Australia either immediately or within three years. The Korean government expects the nation`s GDP to increase by 0.14 percent within the next 10 years.

At a joint press conference, President Park said, "Australia is likely to be Korea`s largest LNG supplier within five years," adding, "The potential of bilateral cooperation is huge in the resources and energy sector."

The two heads of state shared common grounds on deregulation that both countries are currently promoting. The Abbott government has pushed for reform measures such as holding a massive Repeal Day twice a year to extensively abolish unnecessary regulations. On the first repeal day last month, some 1,000 bills and 9,500 administrative regulations were abolished. President Park said, "I`m also making efforts into regulation reform, and the (Australian) policy stance conforms to my national affairs plans."

To boost defense cooperation, such as a promotion of nuclear-free Korean peninsula, the two heads of state have decided to strengthen meetings between foreign policy and defense ministers as well as strategic conversations. They signed a Korea-Australia future vision statement. The Australian government has announced a New Colombo Plan, which promises 97 billion won (92.53 U.S. million dollars) financing over the next five years, to support Australian university students study in Asian countries. Korea will be included for the plan starting next year.

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