India and Korea to discuss greater trade balance today

Commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal and Korean trade minister Han-koo Yeo will also discuss investment-related issues.

India and South Korea will hold talks on Tuesday, which will focus on addressing New Delhi’s concerns on trade imbalance with Seoul, market access issues and non-tariff barriers (NTBs).

Commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal and Korean trade minister Han-koo Yeo will also discuss investment-related issues. “The meeting is expected to further boost India-Korea trade relations in an equitable and balanced manner to the mutual advantage of both countries,” the commerce ministry said in a statement.

The bilateral trade has been heavily tilted in favour of Korea. While Korea has successfully reaped the benefits of its free trade agreement with India, which came into force in 2010, Indian exporters haven’t quite benefited from it.

India imported goods worth as much as $15.7 billion and $12.8 billion, respectively, from Korea in FY20 and FY21 but its exports to that country stood at only $4.8 billion and $4.7 billion during this period. Moreover, Indian exporters have been complaining about huge non-tariff barriers there.

India ships out mainly aluminium, mineral fuels and organic chemicals to Korea and imports steel, capital and consumer goods, among others, from there.

The substantial trade imbalance has prompted India to plan to review the FTA, formally called Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement. As for non-tariff measures, FE had earlier reported that major developed and developing countries, such as the US, China, South Korea, Japan and those in the EU, had erected huge NTBs to mask the ferocity of their trade protectionism and discourage “undesirable imports”, even though they claim to maintain a low-tariff regime.

Since its pull-out of the Beijing-dominated RCEP trade negotiations in November 2019, India has been seeking to expedite talks with key economies for “fair” and “balanced” trade pacts.

While India has ramped up talks with the UAE, Australia and the UK for FTAs, it has also been exploring the feasibility of either reviewing or upgrading various existing trade agreements.

As part of this, India is seeking a review of its FTAs with Asean, Japan and South Korea to make them more balanced.

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