The European Union and South Korea have signed a free-trade deal which could double the amount of commerce between them.
The accord will eliminate 1.6 billion euros of duties that EU companies pay each year to export their goods into South Korea and end European levies of 1.1 billion euros.
Both sides said it will bring major benefits to businesses and consumers.
EU Commission President José Manuel Barroso told a news conference: “This agreement is by far the most important trade deal ever concluded by the European Union with one country. And the first free trade agreement with an Asian country.”
Barroso said they are interested in developing similar agreements with other countries.
This deal will slash the number of regulations affecting industries such as cars, pharmaceuticals and consumer electronics.
The accord is due to take effect next July provided it is ratified by the European Parliament.
But the United States and Japan worry that it might hurt sales of their products in Europe and Asia, with Japanese manufacturers standing to lose market share in Europe’s automotive and electronics markets.