The chief trade officials from South Korea and Colombia agreed to closely cooperate for an early conclusion of their free trade negotiations, Seoul's trade ministry said Monday.
During a meeting earlier in the day, South Korean Trade Minister Kim Jong-hoon and his Colombian counterpart Sergio Diaz-Granados also shared the view that a bilateral free trade pact will serve as an important tool to boost bilateral relations, according to the ministry.
The two countries have held four rounds of free trade negotiations so far after launching the talks in December 2009. Both sides also held their latest inter-session meeting in February this year.
The two countries' bilateral trade nearly doubled to reach US$1.82 billion in 2010 from a year earlier, with South Korea's exports to the South American country reaching $1.39 billion, according to the ministry.
South Korea's main export items include cars and electronic goods, while imports include coffee and mineral resources, such as coal and nickel, from Colombia.
Seoul is seeking to intensify economic cooperation with Latin American countries in a bid to diversify its trading partners and encourage its firms to advance into the region's resource-rich markets.
South Korea has a free trade agreement with Chile that took effect in April 2004, and struck a free trade deal with Peru last August, the latest trade pact that could pave the way for Asia's fourth-largest economy to tap deeper into the South American region. South Korea is also in free trade negotiations with Mexico.
South Korea, whose economy heavily depends on trade, has been aggressive in forging trade pacts with other nations, highlighted by the sealing of a free trade accord with the European Union (EU) in October last year.
The free trade pact with the EU came into effect on July 1 after South Korea's National Assembly ratified the deal in May. The European Parliament passed the accord in February.