Harper wants Canada-Korea deal in place 'as soon as possible'

Prime Minister Stephen Harper burns incense during his visit to the National Cemetery in Seoul...

Prime Minister Stephen Harper burns incense during his visit to the National Cemetery in Seoul March 11, 2014. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

Bryn Weese, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:21 PM ET

SEOUL, South Korea -- Korean cars for Canadian cows.

That's one way to describe the free trade deal announced here Tuesday between Canada and South Korea.

Korean-made vehicles imported into Canada -- Kias and Hyundais -- will have their 6.1% tariff eliminated over two years once the deal is officially put in place.

And Canadian beef producers, currently facing 40% tariffs on their products here, will have those duties scrapped over 14 years.

Of course the deal extends far beyond those two examples and will ultimately eliminate more than 98% of all tariffs Korea currently imposes on Canadian goods.

Canada, too, will drop just under 98% of the tariffs it imposes on Korean-made goods.

Government officials who worked on the decade-long negotiations were loathe to describe it as a tit-for-tat trade-off, but they do admit the automotive and beef components were the "most difficult" to hash out.

Canadian beef was banned from South Korea for eight years following a breakout of mad cow disease in 2003, but the ban was lifted in 2012.

The final text is still being reviewed by lawyers and requires translation into Korean, English and French, but officials say it could be mere "months" before the two governments are ratifying the deal.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and South Korean President Park Geun-hye said Tuesday in a joint statement both countries will work "expeditiously" to get the agreement into force "as soon as possible."


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