RTTNews - India and South Korea inked a free trade agreement, the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) on Friday in Seoul, which will remove or reduce tariffs over the next 10 years, as also open trade and investment between the two countries, say media reports.

Indian Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma and South Korean counterpart Kim Jong-hoon signed the agreement rounding off three years of negotiations. Talks were started in March 2006 and concluded in September 2008. The Indian cabinet approved the pact last month while Seoul officials expect it to get ratified by next January.

The agreement covers goods and services as well as investments, besides containing chapters on competition. The two countries agreed to let skilled professionals, including computer programmers and engineers, work temporarily in each other's country, the first such commitment offered by Seoul under its free-trade deals. In the service sector, India is to open its telecom, accounting, medical and advertising markets to South Korean companies. Also, South Korean banks will be allowed to open branches in India.

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