Seven agreements signed as India and Korea reinvent their ties as ‘special strategic partnership’
GN Bureau | May 18, 2015
India and South Korea have agreed to upgrade the bilateral relationship to 'Special Strategic Partnership'. This was disclosed by prime minister Narendra Modi after both the countries signed seven agreements on Monday.
Modi arrived in Seoul on Monday morning for a two-day visit heavily focused on economic ties with Asia's fourth-largest economy and beefing up investment from South Korean firms.
Modi met South Korean President Park Geun-hye around noon (IST). They discussed issues ranging from diplomacy and the economy to the security situation on the Korean peninsula.
The Indian prime minister is looking to secure promises of bigger investments as part of his "Make In India" initiative, aimed at fostering the nation's relatively weak manufacturing sector. He is scheduled to meet top executives of Korean giants Samsung, LG and Hyundai.
All three manufacturing giants operate plants in India where they enjoy sizeable shares of the vast consumer market for cars, smartphones and home appliances.
India needs help upgrading its outdated transport infrastructure -- a constant source of frustration among foreign firms operating there.
On Tuesday, Modi is scheduled to visit the main shipyard of the world's largest shipbuilder, Hyundai Heavy Industries, in the southern city of Ulsan and to meet with its chairman Choi Kil-Seon.
Hyundai Motor Company, South Korea's largest carmaker, operates two plants in the southern Indian city of Chennai, and expanding that investment is expected to be high on the agenda during a meeting between Modi and Hyundai Motor chairman Chung Mong-Koo in Seoul, also on Tuesday.
A meeting with head of Samsung's mobile unit JK Shin is also expected to help accelerate the South Korean firm's plans to build a third plant in India.
Earlier in the day, Modi said that "in the last one year, the world's perception about India has changed". "There was a time when people left India saying the country is of no good," PM Modi said. "Today people are excited to come to India. This is the mood that has changed," Modi said while addressing Indian community in Seoul.
"The world has realized that BRICS cannot be imagined without India," the PM said. "I am starting my visit to Korea by meeting all of you," he said.
Highlighting the importance of his current visit, PM Modi said that for long time, India has been following "Look East policy", but now that has changed.
The Prime Minister said that solution for India's all problems is development.
"The path is tough but we have embraced that path. The solution to all problems is development," the PM said.
The PM elaborated that by development, he means a change in quality of life. "Development is not about big roads and buildings. It's about a change in quality of life. For instance, I want every home to have a toilet," Modi said. "The world's best technology should come to India," the PM said.
Prime minister Narendra Modi at the Press Briefing with President Park Geun-hye:
Excellency, President Park Geun-hye,
Members of the Media,
It is a great pleasure to visit Republic of Korea. I sincerely thank President Park for the warm welcome and hospitality.
I had excellent discussions with President Park today. Her own visit to India in January 2014 had a big impact on our relations.
I am pleased to visit Republic of Korea in the first year of my Government. I have visited here before as Chief Minister.
Korea's economic rise had left me deeply impressed. In the short time since then, Korea's global leadership in manufacturing and technology has become more visible.
Korea is also a strong pillar of democracy in Asia.
Korea's rapid progress has made the vision of an Asian century stronger.
It will be based not only on the strength of Korea's economy, but also its contribution to peace and stability in the region.
We consider Korea a crucial partner in India's economic modernization.
I am here at a time of renewed momentum in the Indian economy. We are pursuing a comprehensive programme of economic modernization that covers all sectors of our economy and all aspects of policies and procedures.
We have a special focus on infrastructure and developing a world class manufacturing sector. Korea can be a leading partner in this enterprise.
Our relationship started with a strong economic emphasis. But, it has also now become strategic in content.
The need for closer engagement between countries with shared values and vision has never been stronger.
For all these reasons, this is a very important visit for me.
I am pleased that we have agreed to upgrade the bilateral relationship to ‘Special Strategic Partnership’.
The decisions today reflect how seriously we take the new framework of our relationship. Republic of Korea is the second country with which India will have a diplomatic and security dialogue in 2+2 format.
I welcome the decision to have regular cooperation between our national security councils.
We have also agreed to expand cooperation between our armed forces.
We intend to deepen our cooperation in defence technology and manufacture of defence equipment in India. This sector offers huge opportunities in India.
I have requested President Park to support the participation of Korean companies in the defence sector in India. Her response has been positive.
We had extensive discussions on our economic relations.
Many Korean brands are household names in India. President Park and I see vast opportunities for Korean companies to participate in our ‘Make in India’ Mission. I will meet Korea's business leaders tomorrow. Korean companies have the edge to succeed in India.
We will also establish a channel – Korea Plus – to facilitate their investment and operations in India.
I sought President Park's support for participation of Korean companies in new areas.
Besides defence equipment, I invited Korean investments in areas like ship building, including LNG tankers.
Our decision to establish a Joint Working Group on shipbuilding reflects our seriousness to cooperate in this area. Korean companies will be participating in India's plans to acquire and manufacture LNG tankers. Tomorrow, I will visit a shipyard in Ulsan.
President Park and I shared the view that our modest trade is well below its potential. We agreed to review the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement and other market access related issues. I conveyed our desire to see a balanced and broad-based growth in bilateral trade.
We also had productive discussions on international issues.
I welcomed Korea’s diplomatic efforts to maintain peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula. I also shared her concerns that proliferation of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction will not be in the interest of countries of the region. I offered India’s support to Korean people for peaceful re-unification of Korean Peninsula.
We discussed our engagement in the East Asia Summit and with ASEAN. We have a shared interest in an open, balanced and inclusive regional architecture. We have common views on maritime security in this region.
We agreed to work together and with other countries in the region to ensure the freedom of navigation and safety and security of sea lanes of communication. Challenges of cyber security and terrorism are also areas of interest to both of us.
The visit to Korea has just begun, but it is already very productive. We have laid the foundation for a relationship that two major Asian countries with shared values should have.
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