Push for greater access in Korean services market: Ficci

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New Delhi, Dec 16: Ahead of India's negotiations on comprehensive economic partnership agreement (CEPA) with Korea industry chamber Ficci has suggested that India has to push for greater market access for its professionals and service-providers in the Korean services market.

''This has to be taken up with the Korean side in the 9th round of India-Korea comprehensive economic partnership agreement (CEPA) negotiations beginning from 18 December,'' observed Ficci President Habil Khorakiwala. The chamber pointed out that in its FTA negotiations with US, Korea has significantly improved upon its WTO commitments in virtually all major service sectors.

Similarly, in the ASEAN-Korea FTA in services signed last month, Korea's offer goes beyond its WTO obligations and is better than its offer under the current Doha negotiations.

Therefore, it would be in the interest of Indian industry to secure concessions and market access for our service-providers, which would be higher than Korea's present level of WTO commitments, observed FICCI.

Korea has a fairly well-developed service sector that accounts for 52 per cent of its GDP. Korea's imports of services grew at an average annual rate of over 12 per cent in 2000-06 and stood at 70.6 billion dollars in 2006.

However, India occupies just a marginal share of this and the bulk of Korea's total services imports come from US (25.4 per cent share), EU (15.2 per cent share), Japan (15.1 per cent share) and China (13.1 per cent share).

As regards composition of Korea's services imports, Ficci noted that transportation and travel related services account for 60.5 per cent of the total.

Other important areas of Korea's imports include business services and communication services.

''India should aim at getting more liberal market access in Korea in service sectors such as IT and IT-enabled services (Korea's market for IT services is projected to reach 11.4 billion dollars in 2008), audio-visual, architecture, accountancy, construction-related engineering and the like,'' said a statement.

To facilitate the cause of Indian professionals, it is necessary that the two countries enter into mutual recognition agreements (MRAs) in several areas of professional services, even as Korea has so far displayed keenness to get into such agreements only in the area of IT.

On temporary movement of professionals (Mode-4), Ficci has urged the government to take up in the forthcoming negotiations the case of specific categories of natural persons, namely, business visitors, intra-corporate transferees, contractual service suppliers and independent professionals, so that the entry of Indian professionals into Korea for providing services becomes easier.

Indian industry has expressed concern regarding the short duration of stay (up to 90 days) in the case of business visitor visa issued by Korea, while India issues similar visas for 180 days.

This issue needs to be addressed, in the forthcoming negotiations, said the industry chamber.

UNI

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