After talks lasting two and a half years, South Korea and India have reached agreement on a free trade deal, the trade ministry said on Sept. 26. The two countries resolved "all outstanding issues" in negotiations here on a comprehensive economic partnership agreement (CEPA), the equivalent of a free trade agreement, the ministry said.
India and South Korea, the world's 12th and 13th largest economies, began negotiations in March 2006. They plan to sign the accord by the end of this year if parliaments in both countries approve it.
A trade official said that tariff concessions and other key issues, especially in the field of farm products and automobiles, have been successfully resolved.
South Korea hopes the deal will help its companies gain an edge in India, the world's second most populous country with 1.1 billion people and an economy growing at an annual rate of more than 8%.
Bilateral trade was worth $11.2 billion last year.
South Korea has already forged free trade pacts with Chile, Singapore and the European Free Trade Association comprising Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. It has a partial pact with members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, while a trade agreement signed by Seoul and Washington last year awaits approval by legislatures in both countries. Talks are also under way with the EU, Canada and Mexico and preparatory talks have been held with Gulf Cooperation Council member states.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2008