Canada has concluded a free trade agreement with South Korea, ending almost a decade of protracted and often difficult negotiations.
The deal is the second for Canada in less than a year, coming on the heels of last October's agreement in principle with the European Union. But officials say the Korean agreement is different in that it is fully fleshed out with no outstanding issues and could come into effect within the year.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Korean President Park Geun-hye formally made the announcement at a ceremony in Seoul on Tuesday afternoon local time.
Ottawa says once fully implemented, the pact is projected to boost Canadian exports by 32 per cent, or $1.7 billion annually.
The deal eliminates virtually all tariffs between the two countries, with a majority of duties being chopped upon implementation.
Ontario and some in the auto sector have expressed concerns they could be hurt by the removal of a 6.1 per cent duty on Korean vehicles Hyundai and Kia.
In return, Canada has secured freer access for exports of pork, beef, forest products, fish and seafood, and other goods.
Analysts say it was important for Canada to reach an agreement because exporters were losing market share as a result of South Korea having already signed deals with the U.S., the European Union and Australia.