U.S. President Barack Obama and South Korean President Lee Myung Bak agreed on Tuesday to work together combat trade protectionism between the two trading states.

The bill for a bilateral free trade deal of 2007 has not been approved by legislatures in either country but is expected to come up for a vote in the coming weeks in South Korea.

Free trade between the two countries is expected to boost their $78 billion annual trade by as much as $20 billion.

Both heads of state agree that a deal should soon be reached.

A rise in protectionism can only delay the recovery of the global economy, Lee said, according to Reuters.

However, President Obama wants to make changes to the current bilateral trade deal as it gives South Korean carmakers untrammelled access to the U.S. market, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said.