SEOUL: South Korea on Wednesday called for broadening the scope of free trade agreement (FTA) with India for boosting two-way commerce and investments. South Korean deputy minister for trade, industry and energy Young Sam Kim said that there is a need to enhance cooperation in manufacturing and infrastructure sectors. The world class technology of Korea in the manufacturing sector can help India achieve the objectives of Make in India initiative besides in smart city development, he said.
Kim was speaking at industry body Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry’s (Ficci) India-S Korea Economic Cooperation Forum in New Delhi. On FTA, officially dubbed as comprehensive economic partnership agreement (CEPA), he said both the sides should work on ways to expand two-way trade and investment in terms of quantity as well as quality. To do so, he added, there is a need to enhance the scope of the agreement. “CEPA has achieved remarkable things such as increasing bilateral trade volume. But it is also true that there is still room for improvement,” he said, adding that both the sides can work on broadening the pact and look at the rules of origin. He said both the countries can look at early conclusion of the negotiations for the review of the CEPA. Two rounds of negotiations have already been concluded. For the third round of talks, Indian delegation led by commerce and industry minister Suresh Prabhu will visit Korea. The agreement between the two countries was implemented in January 2010. The review assumes significance as India had a trade deficit of about $8.5 billion in 2016-17. Under the widening of the scope of the agreement, South Korea wants addition of more products such as machinery and certain kinds of steel products under the pact. The bilateral trade in 2016-17 increased to $16.82 billion from $16.57 billion in the previous fiscal. Speaking at the event, additional secretary in the commerce ministry, J.K. Dadoo said that over 880 Korean companies such as Samsung and LG have presence in India. “The trade deficit needs to be corrected.There is a huge potential for India’s exports in Korea,” he said, adding that India’s share in Korea’s textiles imports is minuscule.