Even as the India-South Korea Free Trade Agreement (FTA) will soon be expanded to boost bilateral trade and investment, New Delhi has conveyed to Seoul about concerns over low utilisation of the FTA by India due to the 'complicated' provisions in the pact as well as South Korea's regulations.
According to official sources, in the recently held bilateral talks in Seoul, India referred to the difficulties being faced by its English teachers in getting permission to teach that language in South Korea. Though going by the FTA, Indian English language teachers should be getting opportunities to teach in primary and secondary schools in South Korea, this is not being implemented effectively in practice. The reason being that according to the ‘English Program in Korea’ (EPIK), those eligible to teach English in South Korea must “be a citizen of a country where English is the primary language.” The EPIK specifies that “EPIK teachers must be citizens of one of the following countries: Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, U.K, U.S, or South Africa.” In the recent talks, India has asked South Korea to include it (India) in the EPIK country-list by pointing out that South Africa was in the list though that country has eleven official languages including Afrikaans, and English was just only one of them. Also, though India is keen on sending its Yoga teachers to South Korea for short-term work, Seoul has stated that their services may not be needed as much, because many Koreans are now learning Yoga from India and returning to teach the same in South Korea.
On the goods side, India is keen that the norms are eased to upgrade the FTA in a way that Indian goods get greater market access in South Korea. Since the implementation of the FTA in 2010, India’s trade deficit with South Korea has increased from around $5 billion in that year to over $8 billion at present. In order to ensure greater market access in South Korea for Indian products including farm goods, India is seeking a process whereby both the countries can agree on certain institutions or accredited bodies whose export inspection and phytosanitary certification of plants and plant products are accepted by both the sides. According to an official statement, India and South Korea have agreed to "endeavour to finalise the FTA upgrading negotiations at the earliest, within 2018." (ENDS)