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India to hold talks on upgrading bilateral trade pact with South Korea this week

Amiti Sen New Delhi | Updated on December 11, 2018 Published on December 11, 2018

English-teaching, domestic certification recognition on agenda for the review meeting

India will urge South Korea to re-consider including it in the list of nations allowed to send teachers to teach English in the country as many Indians may be fit for the job. Officials from both countries are meeting for negotiations on upgrading the existing bilateral trade pact in Seoul this week.

“India's demand for inclusion in the list of countries allowed to participate in the English Program in Korea (EPIK) was ignored in the harvest programme signed earlier this year. We are now insisting on it in the on-going negotiations for the upgraded CEPA,” a government official told BusinessLine.

New Delhi also wants both countries to accept home country certification for identified professions pending conclusion of mutual recognition agreements for the same, the official added.

India and South Korea are negotiating to upgrade the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) implemented by the two in 2010 envisaging tariff elimination/reduction in about 80 per cent of goods such as textiles, leather goods and, pharmaceuticals, opening up of sectors such as tourism and healthcare and freer movement of persons.

Early harvest programme

Both sides signed an early harvest programme in July with South Korea agreeing to eliminate tariffs on 17 more Indian products and India reciprocating by bringing down duties on 11 items. To make it easier for professionals to move from one country to the other, EHP also increased the visa duration for ICT employees to three years from one year.

“India hopes for many more concessions in the services sector as part of the upgrading of the CEPA which is expected to be concluded in 2019,” the official said.

New Delhi believes that its demand that EPIK be leveraged to mutual advantage by including it as a native English speaking country eligible for E2 visa by Korea is a valid one. “There is no reason why South Africa can be included in the list of eligible countries to send English teachers and not India when we don’t have any dearth of people with English speaking skills in the country. If such people have the additional skill of knowing the Korean language, they should be permitted to teach English in Korea,” the official said.

Movement of professionals

India also feels both countries should not wait for formalising mutual recognition agreements in areas such as accountancy, healthcare, nursing and architecture to allow such professionals to move freely within the region. “India wants that till the time the MRAs are finalised, home country certification should suffice,” the official added.

The India-South Korea CEPA, so far, has benefited South Korea more with the country enjoying a trade surplus of $12 billion with India in 2017-18. “It is important for India to gain some leeway in services in the review exercise for the CEPA to have some balance,” the official said.

Published on December 11, 2018

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