Expansion of bilateral trade with India in mutual interest: Korean Prez

| | New Delhi
Expansion of bilateral trade with India in mutual interest: Korean Prez

South Korean President Moon Jae-in today called for expansion of bilateral trade with India, saying it was in the interest of both the nations.

Addressing the India-Korea Business Forum here, Moon hoped that Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) and Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Agreement negotiations can be "concluded as early as possible".

The president said Korea was committed to elevate relations with India to a level that matches those with four major powers around Korean peninsula.

"This commitment is embodied in my new southern policy that aims to move beyond just economic co-operation," Moon said.

The four major powers in and around the Korean Peninsula are - China, Japan, Russia and the US.

Moon also affirmed his commitment to raise the level of Korea-India engagement by extending his government's new 'Southern Policy' of People, Prosperity and Peace (PPP) to '3P Plus' in the new areas of cooperation such as shipbuilding, medical devices and food processing.

"India and South Korea are the world's 7th and 11th largest economies.

"However, trade between the two countries came to USD 20 billion last year, which is not small but far short of our expectations," Moon said at the forum attended by around 400 top business leaders from both countries.

Commerce and Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu said he has held discussion on the 'Early Harvest' under CEPA with his Korean counterpart Kim Hyun-Chong.

Prabhu said the two nations are taking forward the discussion and have decided to take their relationship to the new level.

The two ministers today signed the joint statement on the Early Harvest package in the India-Korea CEPA up-gradation, according to an official statement.

Stressing that India and Korea can lead the fourth industrial revolution, Moon said an MoU will be signed tomorrow towards the establishment of a Future Vision Technology Group to boost bilateral cooperation in science and technology.

Referring to the recent rapprochement between his country with North Korea, Moon said business opportunities in his country could rise substantially if “we can establish peace in the Korean Peninsula”.

“South Korea is facing a historic transition. We have opened a way to the establishment of peace through the South-North Korea summit and North Korea-US summit.

“Once peace is established, investment conditions in South Korea will improve and many new business opportunities may be created," the president said.

He shared that bilateral cooperation between India and Korea was being expanded to newer areas like ship building, medical devices and food processing.

Moon pointed out that Korean companies were keen to participate in large-scale infrastructure development in India, especially in the development of Smart Cities.

He said the two nations share many common values while both their governments pushed for what he termed  the "3Ps" -- people-oriented peace and prosperity.

"I am committed to raise the relationship with India which is embodied in the New Southern Policy, which is also aligned with Act East Policy pursued by Prime Minister Narendra Modi,"Moon said.

The president said Korea will contribute actively to Make in India initiative of the government, adding that around 500 Korean companies are present in India.

Besides, Prabhu referred to the processing of marine products exported from India as one of the sunrise sectors for future bilateral cooperation, adding that there lies a great opportunity for Korean companies to come and invest in India.

He said India was thinking of setting up a special economic zone which can only house the Korean companies.

“I will urge my Korean friends that this is the place where you should invest because in the next 7-8 years India will be a 5 trillion dollar economy and if you take 15 years from now India will be a 10 trillion dollar economy. So the growth in India is inevitable, we are on course to do that,” Prabhu said.

He outlined manufacturing, services and agriculture as the areas having huge potential to enhance bilateral economic cooperation, adding that he has already discussed this with his Korean counterpart.

 “We would like to give a concrete shape to this through the business participation,” he added.

The minister highlighted the importance of the South Korean President's visit to India at a time when the country was in a growth trajectory, and expressed confidence that his coming here would help India's economy touch the 8 per cent mark soon from 7.6 per cent in the last quarter.

India and South Korea are working to revise the  CEPA which has been in place since 2009.

According to estimates, India's export to South Korea stood at USD 4.4 billion in 2017-18, with an annual growth of 5.2 per cent. On the other hand, import from Korea was four times larger at USD 16.4 billion and rose 30 per cent in 2017-18.

The Korean President also highlighted India's contribution to the world through Bollywood, Yoga, Nobel Laureates and meditation, observing that his daughter was a Yoga instructor and movies like Haathi Mere Saathi, Three Idiots and Dangal have garnered huge popularity in Korea.



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