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Bridging trade gap: Indian mangoes, beer to get free access to South Korea

Press Trust of India/New Delhi 13 Jul 18 | 06:41 PM

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with South Korean President Moon-Jae in

As many as 17 Indian products, including mangoes and beer, will get free access to the South Korean market, a move that would help bridge the trade gap between the two countries, an official said on Friday.

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Besides, it has also been agreed that South Korea would permit Indians to set up yoga training institutes and send yoga trainers, while the Korean would do the same for Taekwondo.

These are part of the early harvest package agreed upon by both the countries under the review of the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), a type of free trade agreement. This package will lead towards an upgradation of this trade pact.

Both the countries finalised the elements of the package during the recent visit of South Korea's President Moon Jae-in.

Similarly, Korea will duty concessions from India on 11 products, that include certain kinds of fish such as Tuna and base oil (a petroleum item).

"India will give duty concessions on 11 tariff lines to South Korea and Korea will give these concessions on 17 tariff lines to India," the government official added.

The duties would be significantly reduced or eliminated over the period of eight to 10 years by both the sides. These decisions would be implemented after approval of the Union Cabinet and the South Korean parliament.

India will reduce customs duties on Tuna to 15 per cent from 30 per cent at present over a period of 10 years. While the duties on base oil will be halved to 2.5 per cent over a period of 15 years.

"Korea will bring duties to zero on Indian beer from 30 per cent currently. Indian mangoes too will get access at zero duty from the current 20 per cent over a period of eight years," the official added.

Other Indian goods which will get concessional duty access are popcorn, maize, jelly and jam.

Both the countries agreed on easing of visa regime under which they will provide long-term visas to businesses, the official said, adding in the next round of negotiations, the Indian side would seek concessions on textiles and sesame seed exports.

India also wants E2 visa from Korea as it would give access to Indians in their English programme but they are apprehensive that Indians may flood their market.

Further on the issue that South Korea seeking removal of restrictions on gold and silver imports, the official said that talks are on to fix regional value content (RVC).

"How much should be the value addition is the area of negotiations. We have not yet finalised that," the official added.

In August 2017, India restricted imports of gold and silver items from South Korea to check spurt in the inbound shipments of the precious metals from that country.

The two nations implemented a free trade agreement in January 2010. Under the pact , basic customs duty on gold was eliminated.

The trade gap with Korea has increased to $11.96 billion in 2017-18 from $8.34 billion in 2016-17. The bilateral trade rose to $20.9 billion in 2017-18 from $16.9 billion in the previous fiscal.

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