WASHINGTON, Nov. 23- The South Korean parliament approved the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS-FTA) with the United States today, one month after President Obama approved a trio of Free Trade Agreements. 

“This is a win-win agreement that will provide significant economic and strategic benefits to both countries,” said U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk. “We look forward to working closely with the government of Korea to bring the agreement into force as soon as possible.”

The approval arrives more than four years after the deal was initially settled in 2007 by former U.S. President George W. Bush and the late South Korean President Roh Moo Hyun. Today’s agreement could take effect as early as January 1, 2012.

South Korea's ruling Grand National Party (GNP) used its majority in the National Assembly to approve the free trade agreement, despite objection from opposition parties that argue for protection of local industries. 

Wit at least 148 votes in favor required to approve motion, the Assembly passed the legislation with 151 favorable votes, seven dissenting votes and 12 absent. South Korea will now have free trade deals with 45 countries. 


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