Union Commerce and Industries Minister Suresh Prabhu and South Korean Trade Minister Kim Hyun-Chong on Monday signed agreements on trade and commerce.
NEW DELHI: India and South Korea will reduce duties on 11 tariff lines in a bid to expand bilateral trade by updating their existing free-trade agreement, called the comprehensive economic partnership agreement (CEPA). “Both countries have agreed to tariff concessions on 11 lines,” said an official in the know of the details. The revised CEPA would be signed on Tuesday in the presence of South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who is on a four-day visit to India. The two countries arrived at the final tariff lines after intense negotiations in which South Korea offered to reduce tariffs on 17 lines. In 2017-18, India exported goods worth $4.4 billion to South Korea while imports from the latter were worth $16.3 billion. India allowed imports of South Korean pears and had asked Seoul to reduce duties on sesame imports. South Korea imposes quantitative restrictions on sesame imports and levies a whopping 630% duty on Indian sesame, which India wants reduced. South Korea’s main items of export to India include automobile parts, telecommunication equipment, hot-rolled iron products, petroleum refined products, base lubricating oils, nuclear reactors, mechanical appliances, electrical machinery and parts, and iron and steel products. Commerce and industry minister Suresh Prabhu on Monday said official talks are underway to improve and upgrade the CEPA, which came into force on January 1, 2010. Prabhu met South Korea’s minister for trade, industry and energy Kim Hyunchong. The two ministers shared the view that both countries should strive towards achieving additional liberalisation by upgrading the CEPA in such a way that reflects the various interests and sensitivities of each side, according to an official statement. In the last meeting held in 2017, three deliverables were identified—early harvest package of the CEPA, forming future strategy group to jointly harness fourth generation technology and innovative products and trade remedies MoU. “All three deliverables have been realised today,” the government said in the statement.