Economic Times - 18 September 2020
India seeks market concession for rice, access for grapes, pomegranates from South Korea
By Kirtika Suneja
India will seek concessions for its rice exports to South Korea as Seoul levies a whopping 513% tariff on imported rice and buys rice from only five countries under its tariff rate quota regime. New Delhi will also push for Seoul to allow imports of grapes and pomegranates and eggplant, and do away with the requirement of sending inspectors before importing mangoes.
At present, India does not export any non-Basmati rice to South Korea and the country imports rice from the US, China, Australia, Vietnam and Thailand. It levies 513% duty and maintains a tariff rate quota of 408,700 tonne.
The issue came up at a recent meeting that the commerce and industry ministry had with industry and exporters on the India-Korea Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) on reviewing the pact.
“We are in the process of reviewing the agreement and are looking at tariff and non-tariff barriers that could be taken up,” said an official.
India’s trade deficit with South Korea was $10.8 billion in FY20. In the first quarter of FY21, India’s exports to the East Asian country were $943.4 million and imports were $2.4 billion. Major items of India’s exports to Korea are mineral fuels/oil distillates such as naphtha, cereals, iron and steel while imports are automobile parts, telecommunication equipment, hot rolled iron products, petroleum refined products, base lubricating oils, nuclear reactors, mechanical appliances, electrical machinery and parts, and products of iron and steel.
Industry also pushed for exports of bovine meat to the country. “We export bovine meat to Asean countries. We have sought market access in South Korea as well,” said an industry representative who attended the meeting.
South Korea is part of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) trade agreement that India exited last year on concerns related to its burgeoning trade deficit with many members.