The 2nd meeting of the Joint Committee at the Ministerial Level to review the India-Korea CEPA (Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement) was held in New Delhi. Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman, Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Commerce and Industry and Mr. Joo Hyunghwan, Minister of Trade, Industry and Energy of the Republic of Korea reviewed the progress made in trade between the two countries since the entry into force of the CEPA from 1st January, 2010 and also had extensive discussions on bilateral trade and economic relations.
The meeting was held in a cordial atmosphere. The Ministers welcomed the opening of “Korea Plus” by the Indian Ministry of Commerce and Industry and agreed to support its operations especially in promoting Korean investment in India. Korean companies’ investment and business activities in India were appreciated and the need to encourage their further participation in India’s key initiatives such as Make in India, Digital India, Skill India, Smart City projects, Power Generation, Smart Grid, Waste Management, etc. was stressed upon. The ‘Korea-India Infra & Industry Forum 2016’ was held on the sidelines of the Ministerial Joint Committee with the participation of the business community of both countries and B2B MoUs were signed in areas such as auto parts, waste-to-energy etc.
Both the ministers agreed that the utilization rate of the bilateral concessions given under CEPA need to be improved. Recognizing the need for providing greater market access, and mutual capacity building in SPS and TBT measures, the ministers agreed that Korean companies could invest in food processing of agricultural and marine products so that these value added products could be exported to the east Asian markets.
The ministers also agreed to increase the trade in services and the Commerce Minister sought greater market access for Indian IT and Healthcare industry in Korea. On India’s request the Korean minister agreed to assess the visa requirements to enable Indian teachers teach in Korea under the English Program in Korea (EPIK).
The ministers agreed that the widening trade deficit was a matter of concern for India and the Korean Minister observed that the wider economic slowdown was one of the causes of increasing trade deficit. He assured that the Korean side is open to increasing trade with India and allowing Indian exporters greater market access on reciprocal basis. He also agreed that Korea could make investments under the make in India Program for the mutual benefit of both the countries. Commerce and Industry Minister Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman impressed upon the Korean side for greater market access in Agriculture, Marine, IT and other services.
Recalling that the leaders of both countries, at the summit meeting held on 18 May 2015 in Korea, had agreed on commencement of negotiations to amend the CEPA by June 2016 with a view to achieve qualitative and quantitative increase of trade through an agreed road-map, the Ministerial Level Joint Committee Meeting commenced the process of review of CEPA.