The respective governments of Colombia and South Korea signed a joint declaration in Bogota Monday officially concluding negotiations of a free trade agreement (FTA) between the two countries that began in 2009.

“We decided to proceed promptly(…) for the FTA to enter into force,” said an official statement released by both countries Monday.

The FTA will effectively eliminate various tariffs on goods entering Colombia from South Korea, and will likely boost trade with the Asian economic force that imported over $400 billion worth of goods last year.

“Last year, our bilateral trade exceeded $1.4 billion, and we hope, from the strength of the FTA,  to multiply that by much more,” said Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos.

The treaty was signed by Colombia’s Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism, Sergio Diaz-Granados and South Korea’s Trade Minister Bark Tae-ho at Bogota’s presidential palace, Casa de Nariño, while the countries’ heads of state looked on.

Korean President Lee Myung-bak stressed the importance of the agreement, which was the first Colombia has signed with an Asian country, by saying it reinforces “economic and commercial relations” between the two nations.

Santos thanked his presidential counterpart for his support to include Colombia as a member of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC). The OECD is committed to promoting policies that will improve the economic well-being of people around the world and currently has 34 member states. APEC is an international organization whose 21 members are dedicated to promoting economic growth in the Asia-Pacific region.

“Thank you, that you very much South Korea, for your continued cooperation with our country in sectors such as education, culture, technology, rural development and environmental risk management,” added Santos.

Analysts predict the agreement will boost Colombia’s economy by 0.5%. There was no mention of when the FTA would come into effect.

From Colombia Reports