Vietnam and the Republic of Korea (RoK) have initialed the bilateral free trade agreement (FTA), according to a press release from the RoK Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE) on March 29.

The agreement will boost bilateral trade by removing tariff barriers and non-tariff obstacles in trade between the two countries.

According to the MOTIE, the Government will do its utmost to officially sign the agreement in the first half of this year and submit it to the parliament for early approval in order for the agreement to take effect by the end of 2015.

The English edition of the agreement will be announced on March 30.

During the May 2014 working visit to the RoK on the occasion of the 25 th anniversary of ASEAN-RoK Relations (1989-2014) in Seoul, President Park Geun Hye and Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung announced the conclusion of the negotiations on the agreement.

The two sides intend to increase the volume of trade to 70 billion USD in 2020, triple the current figure.

The MOTIE asserted that the Vietnam-RoK free trade agreement will open opportunities for RoK small and medium business to penetrate the Vietnamese market, particularly in garments and textiles, car parts, cosmetics and electronics.

However, the MOTIE said rice will not be included in the FTA as it is considered a “sensitive” commodity for the RoK.-VNA