India and Korea today committed to early conclusion of the review of the free trade agreement between the two nations with a view to intensifying bilateral economic cooperation.
The Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) between the two countries was implemented in January 2010 and is currently under revision.
We are committed to an early conclusion of the review on which we have been working since 2016 and I hope that we can address it in the very short future, Commerce Secretary Rita Teaotia said.
Korean Trade, Industry and Energy Minister Paik Ungyu too pitched for early conclusion of CEPA review.
While appreciating the growth in bilateral trade from USD 12 billion in 2010 to over USD 20 billion in 2017, Teaotia flagged the issue of widening trade deficit.
Today at 11.4 billion dollars it is certainly not a sustainable position and this widening trade deficit has aroused concerns in many quarters that for long term sustainability we will need to work towards a mutually beneficial and a more balanced trade, she said.
Teaotia said the preferential tariffs which were in the progressive elimination categories have now become fully operational, as a result of which about 70 per cent of tariff lines in Indian schedule and 88 per cent of the lines in Korea schedule are already at zero duty under CEPA.
Despite these concessions having come into place, the question is why has it (CEPA) not been utilised to the extent possible? We need to work together to identify and address these impediments and increase the utilisation rate of the CEPA so that industry on both sides can benefit from the concessions, she said.
The commerce secretary further said it is now time to realise the outcomes of the CEPA discussions.
As part of efforts to augment bilateral strategic relationship, she said India and Korea are working to establish a future strategy group under which joint projects will be taken up in the areas of new technologies such as artificial intelligence, Internet of Things, future manufacturing, robotics and green tech.
In his address at the India-Korea Business Summit, Ungyu proposed swift conclusion of the CEPA review and hoped that it would further open doors of trade.
The purpose of CEPA of expanding trade and investment will soon be realised, he said, adding, We should concentrate our capacities on finalising the upgraded agreement to reach a balance of interest at the earliest possible date. The minister said the atmosphere for bilateral cooperation is brighter than ever, and the two nations need to further expand trade and investment.
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