New Delhi, July 10 (IANS) In a bid to further upgrade bilateral trade and economic ties, India and South Korea have agreed to further strengthen their Comprehensive Economic Partnership (CEPA) following delegation-level talks headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and South Korean President Moon Jae-in here on Tuesday.
“We have taken an important step in the form of an Early Harvest Package to further upgrade our Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement,” Modi said in a joint address to the media along with Moon after the meeting.
“Keeping in view the future of our relationship and the rapid technology changes across the world, we have decided to set up an Innovation Cooperation Centre and form a Future Strategy Group,” he said.
The India-South Korea was operationalised in 2010 as a result of then President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam’s visit to that East Asian nation four years earlier.
Following this, trade and economic relations between the two sides started to gather momentum and bilateral trade in 2011 crossed $20.5 billion registering a 70 per cent growth over a two-year period.
However, bilateral trade since declined to $18.13 billion in 2014-15, $16.56 billion in 2015-16, USD 16.82 billion in 2016-17, which finally recovered and posted a positive growth of 30 percent in the first seven months of 2017.
Modi lauded Korean companies for not only investing in India but also creating employment opportunities under the Make in India initiative.
“Korean companies have become household names in India for their commitment to quality of their products,” he said.
Following Tuesday’s talks, the two sides also released a Vision Document to further strengthen their Special Strategic Partnership.
“Our focus is to further strengthen our Special Strategic Partnership,” the Prime Minister said. “Economic and commercial ties is an important pillar of this.”
The India-South Korea relationship was elevated to that of a Special Strategic Partnership during Modi’s visit to that country in 2015.
The Prime Minister also said that India’s Act East Policy that seeks to strengthen ties with Southeast Asia has natural commonalities with President Moon’s New Southern Policy.
In November last year, Moon announced his New Southern Policy that seeks to make the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) regional bloc a diplomatic and economic partner as important as the global superpowers.
In his address to the media, Moon said that he is pressing ahead with the New Southern Polcy that seeks to make India South Korea’s key partner for cooperation.
“By facilitating exchange between the people of our two countries, we have decided to broaden the scope of our mutual understanding,” the South Korean President said.
“We have agreed to make mutual summit-level visits on a regular basis and also expand high-level consultations between the two countries.”
Lauding Moon for his role in the ongoing peace process in the Korean Peninsula, Modi said: “In our talks today, I told him that the proliferation links between East and South Asia is a cause of concern for India. So, India too is a stakeholder in the success of this peace process.”
India and South Korea signed seven memoranda of agreement (MoUs) across different fields as part of Moon’s visit to India, his first as President.