South Korea President Lee Myung-bak has signed a package of bills needed to implement the country’s free trade agreement with the U.S. The signing ceremony was held in Seoul on Nov. 29 a week after the trade pact and 14 related bills passed through the Korean National Assembly and one month after the U.S. Congress approved the agreement. “This signing concludes the ratification process,” Lee said. He noted that the free trade pact will “open the door of the world’s largest market, the U.S. market.” The deal will phase out most tariffs and eliminate other trade barriers between the two nations. It could take effect as soon as Jan. 1, 2012. Korea is the seventh-largest export market for the U.S. chemical industry. More than 82% of U.S. chemical products shipped to Korea will receive duty-free treatment within three years after the agreement enters into force. U.S. chemical exports to Korea averaged $5.4 billion annually from 2008 to 2010, and manufacturers paid $892 million in duties on those shipments.