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Korea, India Agree on Upgrading Their Free Trade Pact
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South Korea and India agreed Thursday to improve their free trade pact that went into effect early last year in a bid to further boost bilateral trade.


South Korea and India implemented their free trade agreement on Jan. 1 of last year. It's known as a comprehensive economic partnership agreement (CEPA) and covers services and investment as well as competition and other issues.


During a meeting with Indian Commerce Minister Anan Sharma, South Korean Trade Minister Kim Jong-hoon also agreed to streamline procedures to issue visas to help boost investment and business activities, according to Seoul's trade officials.


Kim told reporters here Wednesday that Seoul and New Delhi will work to further trim tariffs on some products to boost their bilateral trade, saying the trade pact is based on tariffs in 2006.


Trade volume between South Korea and India jumped 41 percent last year from a year earlier to US$17.1 billion, according to Seoul's trade ministry.


South Korea exported goods worth $11.4 billion to India last year, up 43 percent from a year earlier. Seoul's imports of Indian goods jumped 37 percent to $5.7 billion over the cited period, according to the ministry.


Overall, the CEPA is expected to boost bilateral trade by as much as $3.3 billion annually, according to estimates by the state-run Korea Institute for International Economic Policy (KIEP).


Seoul has free trade pacts in effect with 16 nations and is also in talks with 12 other nations over potential free trade accords.


In December last year, South Korea and the United States reached a final trade agreement focusing on U.S. demands that South Korea soften its automotive safety and environmental standards.


A similar pact with the European Union (EU) is also set to go into effect in July.


Source: Yonhap News (Jan. 20, 2011)

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