New Delhi, Apr 10 (PTI) India and South Korea today signed an agreement on mutual recognition of competency certificates of seafarers, paving the way for Indian mariners to seek employment on more than 500 Korean ships.

Indian shipping and transport minister Nitin Gadkari, who started his four-day visit to Korea yesterday, said the pact will benefit both the nations, who are eyeing partnerships in ship-building, waterways and smart transportation, among others.

“India signed an MoU (memorandum of understanding) with the Republic of Korea on mutual recognition of certificates of competency of seafarers. This paves the way for the two governments to mutually recognise the certificates of maritime education and training, competency, endorsements and medical fitness of seafarers issued by each other,” the Ministry of Shipping said in a statement here.

The agreement was signed by Gadkari and his Korean counterpart Kim Young-choon at a ceremony in Busan today.

The statement quoted Gadkari as saying, “The signing of the agreement will benefit both countries. Korea is a large ship owning nation. As of now, Korean entities own more than 500 foreign going ships, and need seafarers to work on their fleet. India has around 1,54,349 seafarers. The agreement will open up employment opportunities for Indian seafarers on Korean ships.” On the second day of his official visit, Gadkari — who is also holding water resources, river development and Ganga rejuvenation portfolio — held a bilateral meeting with the South Korean Oceans Minister Kim Young-choon.

He visited Busan Port and attended India-Korea Maritime Cooperation Forum (IKMCF).

Gadkari’s visit is aimed at strengthening the bilateral cooperation between the two countries in shipping, ports, inland waterways, highways, river interlinking and infrastructure sectors, the statement said.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.