Need to Know | India-South Korea free trade talks conclude

Need to Know | India-South Korea free trade talks conclude

New Delhi: India has concluded free trade negotiations with South Korea, a senior commerce ministry official said at a seminar organized by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci) on Tuesday.

“The India-Korea Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (Cepa) will be finalized on 18 November after which it will be taken up by the cabinet," Dinesh Sharma, joint secretary, ministry of commerce and industry said.

However, the deal has to be approved by the South Korean national assembly before it is notified. “We hope the agreement will come in to effect not before June next year," Sharma added. Discussions with South Korea for such an agreement were on since 2006.

The trade agreement with South Korea covers trade in goods as well as services, measures for trade facilitation and promotion, facilitation and liberalization of investment flows, measures for promoting bilateral economic cooperation in identified sectors among other things.

“One interesting thing about the Indo-Korea trade agreement is that a positive list approach for services is being followed unlike other countries where a negative list approach is followed. This is because South Korea has interest in specific sectors like information technology, telecom and retail," said Arpita Mukherjee, professor at the economic think tank Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations. India has signed a Cepa only with Singapore in 2005.

—Asit Ranjan Mishra


‘Put surplus funds in public sector banks’

New Delhi: The Union finance minister has urged state-run firms to keep 60% of their surplus funds with government- owned banks, a senior official said on Tuesday.

R.S. Pandey, a secretary at the oil ministry, also said state-run firms should not ask banks for higher interest rates on their bulk deposits.

Heads of state-run firms met finance minister P. Chidambaram to discuss their problems in the wake of the economic slowdown.

Oil and Natural Gas Corp. Ltd will lose Rs300-400 crore annually if it follows a finance ministry direction and keeps 60% of its surplus cash with state-run banks, chairman R.S. Sharma said on Tuesday.

“We have a surplus of Rs25,000 crore, out of which 85-90% is parked in state-run banks," he said after a meeting at the finance ministry.

He said some of the funds would be used to fund the firm’s buy of Imperial Energy.

—Reuters & Bloomberg


ONGC signs exploration pact with Uranium Corp

Mumbai: Oil and Natural Gas Corp. Ltd (ONGC), the country’s biggest explorer, agreed to jointly explore and develop uranium mines with the state-run Uranium Corp. of India Ltd (UCIL).

UCIL plans to acquire mines and exploration licenses overseas, New Delhi-based ONGC said in an emailed statement on Tuesday.



Cadila Healthcare buys Italy’s Etna Biotech

Mumbai: Ahmedabad-based drug maker Cadila Healthcare Ltd, also known as Zydus Cadila said on Tuesday it has acquired Italian biopharma research firm Etna Biotech for an undisclosed sum.

Etna, a wholly owned subsidiary of Crucell NV of Italy, is the first acquisition of a pharma research company by Cadila. This acquisition offers Cadila strong research capability in the biopharmaceutical segment, especially in vaccines.

Etna has several biotechnology products in its development pipeline, including vaccines for treating hepatitis, malaria and the sexually transmitted skin ailment human papillomavirus (HPV).

“With this acquisition, we will be at the forefront of innovation in vaccine research and development," Cadila chairman and managing director Pankaj Patel said. Zydus shares, which have lost about 17% since January, dropped nearly 5% to close at Rs261.15 on the Bombay Stock Exchange on Tuesday, while the Sensex fell 6.61%.

—Staff Writer