India-South Korea bilateral trade has been heavily tilted in favour of Seoul

India and South Korea on Tuesday held a bilateral meeting to discuss trade related issues, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry said in a statement.

According to the Ministry, the talks were held between Union Minister of Commerce and Industry Piyush Goyal and his Korean counterpart, Han-koo Yeo.

The discussion focussed on addressing the burgeoning trade deficit, market access issues and non-tariff barriers faced by Indian exporters. Their talks also featured investment related issues.

The bilateral trade has been heavily tilted in favour of Korea. While Korea has successfully reaped the benefits of its free trade agreement with India, which came into force in 2010, Indian exporters haven’t benefited from it.

India imported goods worth as much as USD 15.7 billion and USD 12.8 billion, respectively, from Korea in FY20 and FY21 but its exports to that country stood at only USD 4.8 billion and USD 4.7 billion during this period.

India ships out mainly aluminum, mineral fuels and organic chemicals to Korea and imports steel, capital and consumer goods, among others, from there.

The substantial trade imbalance has prompted India to plan to review the FTA, formally called Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement.

Since its pull-out of the Beijing-dominated RCEP trade negotiations in November 2019, India has been seeking to expedite talks with key economies for “fair” and “balanced” trade pacts.

While India has ramped up talks with the UAE, Australia and the UK for FTAs, it has also been exploring the feasibility of either reviewing or upgrading various existing trade agreements.

As part of this, India is seeking a review of its FTAs with ASEAN, Japan and South Korea to make them more balanced.