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India, South Korea work to bridge trade gap

Buoyed by the growing market for Korean products in India, the two countries are now trying to identify products and services that would be imported by Seoul to correct the trade imbalance between them, says the country's ambassador Joongyu Lee.

"Korea kahani ghar ghar ki. Korean products can be found in every Indian household." That was how he described the strong economic relations.

"There is a need to identify products and services from India that can be imported. The two sides are in touch with each other over the issue," Lee told IANS in an interview.

India has asked South Korea for greater market access for its products for correcting the trade imbalance, especially in information technology (IT), generic medicine and textiles. Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma made the suggestion when he met his Korean counterpart Yoon Sang-jick on the sidelines of a ministerial meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in the Brunei capital Bandar Seri Begawan last month.

Joongyu denied that the imbalance was due to the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement signed by the two countries.

"Trade imbalance is not caused by the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA); trade has grown due to it. Korean companies are setting up manufacturing plants in India and believe in India's potential. Eventually, the trade deficit should come down."

India's bilateral trade deficit with South Korea was about $4.57 billion during January-June, 2013. During the period India imported $6.34 billion and exported only $1.77 billion.

Last year, the deficit stood at $9.36 billion. India exported goods and services worth of $4.14 billion nand imported $13.50 billion.

Both the countries were able to achieve an increase of 70 percent growth in the first two years of implementation of CEPA that India entered with South Korea.

Meanwhile, the Indian government is scouting for more investments from the nation for development of infrastructure and industrialisation. South Korean automobile parts and electronic components manufacturers have shown an eager desire to set up their production units in Rajasthan's upcoming special economic zone.

The South Korea Trade Promotion Agency (Kotra), which is the umbrella agency of the country's ministry of commerce, industry and energy, had entered into a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Rajasthan State Industrial Development and Investment Corporation.

The MoU was signed for an exclusive industrial zone for South Korean industry in Ghilot near Neemrana, in close proximity to the national capital. Currently, 40 Japanese companies are at various stages of starting their production units at the Neemrana zone, which is spread over more than 1,000 acres.