The newly signed Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between South Korea and Canada is set to boost exports for both countries, with apparel and footwear poised to benefit.

In a joint declaration, the countries’ respective Ministers of Trade hailed the FTA as “a signal achievement which will unlock the full potential of our bilateral economic relations and provide greater opportunities for economic cooperation in areas of mutual interest”.

Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development said the agreement, the country’s first with an Asian nation, was expected to boost Canadian exports by 32%, adding C$1.7bn to the domestic economy.

It would also provide parity for Canadian businesses competing with companies based in countries with existing FTAs with South Korea, particularly in the US and the EU.

Under the terms of the FTA, Korea will grant immediate duty-free treatment to 81.9% of Canadian tariff lines, and 90.2% of non-agricultural tariff lines, including 99.8% of tariff lines covering textile and apparel products.

Of particular interest to Canadian exporters will be the immediate duty-free treatment afforded to leather clothing and tanned or dressed fur skins.

Meanwhile, Canada will grant immediate duty-free treatment to 81.5% of Korean non-agricultural tariff lines, but only 5.7% of tariff lines related to apparel – a figure which will, however, rise to 100% in the next three years).

For footwear, duty-free treatment will be granted to 34.8% of tariff lines, with the remaining tariff lines phased out by the Canadian government within five or 11 years.