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National Assembly to Ratify FTA With India

Korea Times, Seoul

National Assembly to Ratify FTA With India

5 November 2009

The governing and opposition parties have agreed to ratify a trade agreement with India at a plenary National Assembly session today, a parliamentary leader said Thursday.

The trade deal will take effect in January if it goes ahead as scheduled.

Ahn Sang-soo, floor leader of the ruling Grand National Party (GNP), said he and Lee Kang-rae, his counterpart in the main opposition Democratic Party (DP), made the agreement at a closed-door meeting Wednesday night.

Ahn said they decided to approve a motion to ratify the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) between Korea and India. ``In fact, it has been several days since deputy floor leaders consented to endorse the pact.’’

Ahn’s comment came after Trade Minister Kim Jong-hoon called for the endorsement of the trade deal at an early date in an interview on Tuesday.

Kim said it would be impossible for the CEPA to go into effect as scheduled in 2010, unless the legislature approves the agreement by next week.

``As the only time when India adjusts tariffs is early January, a further delay will lead to a one-year postponement of the deal taking effect,’’ Kim said.

The two Asian countries concluded the CEPA in August to reduce tariffs on such goods as auto parts and electronic appliances.

The deal is similar to a free trade agreement, but phases out tariffs more slowly.

If ratified, it will lower tariffs on Korean auto parts by as much as 5 percent, and on refrigerators and television sets by 50 percent, over the next eight years.

Duties on Indian products, excluding agricultural products such as rice and meat, will be lowered by 90 percent or eliminated.

The pact will also unlock bilateral trade in the services sector, medicine and construction, and boost personnel exchange between such individuals as IT experts, scientists and English teachers.