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S. Korean President Signs Laws Linked to US Trade Deal

South Korea's President Lee Myung-bak (file photo)
South Korea's President Lee Myung-bak (file photo)

South Korean President Lee Myung-bak has signed a package of laws needed to implement a free trade agreement with the United States.

At a ceremony Tuesday in the capital, Seoul, Lee signed the 14 bills revising various regulations to conform with the trade deal. Among them are revisions to copyright, patent, customs and other domestic laws. The laws could take effect as early as January 1.

The signing comes a week after the package passed through parliament, despite calls from opponents saying the deal favors the United States.

Protesters gathered in Seoul late Saturday to rally against the agreement, which they say will hurt farmers and small retailers in South Korea.

Supporters say the trade agreement will increase South Korean exports and create jobs.

The two countries first agreed to the pact more than four years ago, but it was only last month that the U.S. Congress gave its approval and President Barack Obama signed it into law.

The deal, known as the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement, is the most significant pact for the United States since the 1994 North America Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.