Insights into Editorial: India a stakeholder in Korean peace: Modi

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Insights into Editorial: India a stakeholder in Korean peace: Modi


Context:

South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s visits to India and Singapore underscore his “New Southern Policy” (NSP), which gives priority to deepening bilateral relations with the ASEAN economies and India.

India and Korea have signed agreements covering a broad spectrum of areas, including Internet of Things (IOT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Big Data and anti-dumping. A joint statement on the Early Harvest Package of the Upgraded Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) was exchanged.

The objective of the joint statement was to “facilitate ongoing negotiations on upgrading the India-Korea CEPA by identifying key areas for trade liberalisation”.

They signed 11 pacts to expand business ties and more than double bilateral trade to $50 billion by 2030.

 

India: A key stakeholder in Korean peace:

Modi made an oblique reference to North Korea’s linkages with Pakistan and hinted that this is a reason why India is a stakeholder in the peace process.

There is a proliferation linkage between North-East Asia and South Asia are a matter of concern to India. Therefore, India is also a stakeholder in the peace process. India highlighted that it will do their part to ensure peace.

India has been pressing for a probe into North’s nuclear links with Pakistan and demanding that those responsible for it be held accountable.

Meanwhile, South Korea appraised India about the prospect of denuclearisation of Korean Peninsula. Modi, in turn, credited Moon for South Korea’s peace breakthrough with North Korea and offered India’s support in taking that forward.

 

Bilateral and Commercial relations:

Trade, at $20 billion, is a fraction of the potential, given that India and South Korea are Asia’s third and fourth largest economies.

South Korea’s open market policies found resonance with India’s economic liberalization, and its ‘look east policy’ and ‘act east policy’. The relations has become truly multidimensional, spurred by a significant convergence of interests, mutual goodwill and high level exchanges

Economic engagement constitutes the core of our relations. South Korea is an economic powerhouse and has advanced technology in many sectors. India should have to leverage this.

The agreements signed between the two countries included pacts for speeding up negotiations to upgrade acomprehensive economic partnership agreement’ that was signed in 2009.

The two sides also wanted to step up their cooperation in health care, railways, artificial intelligence telecommunications and cyber security. More Korean companies will have to invest in India so that the foundation for mutual prosperity can be further expanded.

Bilateral trade rose by nearly a quarter to $20.8 billion in the year ending 31 March, with $16.4 billion of that in favour of South Korea. Korean majors like Samsung, LG, Hyundai and Kia have invested over $5 billion in India.

  1. Korea and India formally opened a new Samsung factory on the outskirts of Delhi which the company called the world’s biggest mobile phone manufacturing plant.

 

Capacity Building programmes:

The two countries also agreed to explore tripartite partnership for development in third countries, beginning with capacity building programmes in Afghanistan.

India already has close ties with Afghanistan and is helping to rebuild the war-ravaged country and recently New Delhi and Beijing had decided to work in this area in Afghanistan.

 

India and S. Korea: Vision Document to Boosting strategic cooperation:

The two sides also released a vision document articulating ways to boost their strategic cooperation and reaffirming convergence of their views in dealing with maritime conflicts, in a clear reference to China’s expansionist behaviour in critical sea lanes.

The vision document said the India and S. Korea also reaffirmed that terrorism cannot be justified on any grounds and sought coordinated regional and global efforts to tackle it.

The Korean side also supported India’s bid to become a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group.

Referring to disputes in the maritime sphere, the vision document said both Modi and Moon recognised the link between prosperity and security and reaffirmed the importance of freedom of navigation, overflight and unimpeded lawful commerce.

We supported initiatives for peaceful resolution of conflict through dialogue, underlying the centrality of sovereignty and territorial integrity, in accordance with the universally-recognised principles of international law.

South Korea and India will enhance military exchanges, training and experience-sharing, and research and development including innovative technologies for mutual benefit.

Both also agreed to encourage their defence industries to intensify cooperation in this regard. 

The vision statement read, in a reference to discussions on encouraging Korean defence manufacturers to “Make in India”, one of whom, Hanhwa Techwin, has partnered with Larsen and Toubro to produce K-9 Vajra artillery guns for the Indian Army at a factory near Pune.

The bilateral vision document also committed to building a “peaceful, stable, secure, free, open, inclusive and rules-based region,” incorporating President Moon slogan of “3Ps: People, Prosperity and Peace”.

 

Way Forward:

There is an urgent need to strengthen economic partnership. As a trade war unfolds between US and China, Delhi and Seoul need to liberalise their own bilateral trade relations.

The two sides also need to focus on expanding bilateral security and defence cooperation and working together with other countries to promote a stable Asian balance of power system.

Delhi and Seoul should focus on building flexible middle power coalitions in Asia to limit the impact of the current volatility in the relations between US and China.

The business community of both countries must leverage opportunities arising from complementarities between the two economies to enhance investment, to promote joint ventures, and to work towards the goal of raising bilateral trade to $50 billion by 2030″.

At a time when U.S. foreign policy is capricious and unpredictable, and China’s is making purposeful moves towards global domination, it is important that the South Korea-India partnership grows and consolidates, to contribute to stability in the region.