In a bid to boost investments and bilateral trade after a slump over the last few years, India and South Korea are likely to revise and sign an updated Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) as visiting South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Prime Minister Narendra Modi will hold bilateral talks on Tuesday.
The two sides are also likely to form a Korea-India Future Vision Strategy Group, which will identify research projects and exchange programmes on software, biotech, cyber security, healthcare and energy.
The leaders are likely to talk about the proposed memorial park in Ayodhya on Korean Queen Heo Hwang-ok.
According to “SamgukYusa”, or “The Heritage History of the Three Kingdoms”, written in the 13th century, a princess from Ayodhya (Suriratna) went to Korea, married King Kim-Suro, and became Queen Hur Hwang-ok in 48 AD. In fact, wife of former President Lee Myung-bak (Kim Yoon-ok), former President Kim Dae-jung, former President Kim Young-sam and former PM Kim Jong-pil, trace their ancestry to the royal couple.
The UP government, under CM Yogi Adityanath, has already identified land for the park.
The Korean first lady, Kim Jung-sook, is likely to participate in a K-pop event in Delhi, in a bid to showcase it’s growing popularity in India.
Another area of focus will be defence and security, as India is keen to get South Korean minesweepers — considered to be armed with cutting-edge technology. This is also expected to figure in the conversations, since Delhi is keen to get international players into the Make-in-India programme in defence manufacturing.
Moon is expected to brief Modi about the situation in the Korean peninsula, especially after the Inter-Korea summits and the Singapore meeting between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
Sources said Moon’s visit will open new avenues for expansion of partnership, particularly in the economic domain.
South Korea is seen as a valued economic partner by India, and trade and economic relations have started to gather momentum again following the implementation of CEPA in 2010. Bilateral trade in 2011 crossed $ 20.5 billion, registering a 70-per cent growth over a two-year period.
However, bilateral trade declined to $18.13 billion in 2014-15, $16.56 billion in 2015-16, $16.82 billion in 2016-17, which finally recovered and posted a positive growth of 30 per cent in the first seven months of 2017.
According to Statistics Korea, a Korean agency, Indian exports to the country accounted for $2.91 billion and imports accounted for $8.707 billion during January-July 2017, marking a growth of 26 per cent and 30.1 per cent, respectively.
“Upgrading and revising CEPA was mandated by both leaders in 2015, and both countries initiated negotiations to upgrade the CEPA to enhance bilateral trade between the two countries. That is likely to be one of the major takeaways during the visit,” a source told The Indian Express.
Investments from South Korea are increasing, despite severe setback caused due to the Posco experience. South Korean steel giant Posco has not been able to execute a $12 billion investment, and pulled out last year after 12 years of waiting for approvals.
Major Korean conglomerates such as Samsung, Hyundai Motors and LG have made significant investments in India, estimated at over $4.43 billion (as of March 2017). Recently, Kia Motors, a sister company of Hyundai Group, announced $1.1 billion investment to set up a manufacturing unit in Andhra Pradesh, and Samsung Electronics announced a $760 million investment to expand production facilities in India.
In addition, there are 603 large and small Korean firms, which have offices in India. Indian investments in South Korea is nearing $3 billion.