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U.S., South Korea agree trade deal

Story Highlights

• U.S.-South Korea deal could increase trade between countries by 20 percent
• Deal must still be approved by Congress and South Korean National Assembly
• Agreement follows 10 months of negotiations
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SEOUL, South Korea (CNN) -- The United States and South Korea reached agreement on a bilateral trade deal that could increase trade between the two countries by 20 percent.

The agreement, which must still be approved by the U.S. Congress and South Korea's National Assembly, was the result of 10 months of negotiations. Negotiators worked day and night over the last week to reach agreement.

The White House released a letter early Monday from President Bush officially notifying Congress that he intended to sign the agreement.

"The United States-Korea Free Trade Agreement will generate export opportunities for U.S. farmers, ranchers, manufacturers, and service suppliers, promote economic growth and the creation of better paying jobs in the United States, and help American consumers save money while offering them greater choices," President Bush wrote.

"The Agreement will also further enhance the strong United States-Korea partnership, which has served as a force for stability and prosperity in Asia."

South Korean farmers and laborers, worried their jobs would be threatened by an agreement, took to the streets of the South Korean capital in the last week to protest against the possible deal.

South Korean cattle farmers are especially concerned since the deal would phase out 40 percent restrictive tariffs on U.S. beef imports into South Korea.

The lead negotiator for South Korea said the agreement opens a new era of trade between the U.S. and South Korea with the eventual removal of almost all trade restrictions.

South Korea leaders hope this will boost their country's competitiveness in the global market as it competes against larger Asian neighbors China and Japan.

-- CNN's Sohn Jie-ae contributed to this report.


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US Deputy Trade Representative Karan Bhatia, left, meets South Korean Trade Minister Kim Hyun-chong at an FTA session.

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