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Monday, Nov 18, 2019

India, South Korea look to boost business, defence ties

People familiar with developments said Amitabh Kant, CEO of NITI Aayog, the Indian government’s policy think tank, and Lee Ho-seung, advisor on economic affairs to the South Korean president, will lead the dialogue in Delhi on October 24.

india Updated: Oct 22, 2019 13:36 IST
Rezaul H Laskar
Rezaul H Laskar
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
The two initiatives dovetail with India’s “Act East” policy and South Korea’s “New Southern Policy” and are aimed at giving fresh impetus to economic and security ties.
The two initiatives dovetail with India’s “Act East” policy and South Korea’s “New Southern Policy” and are aimed at giving fresh impetus to economic and security ties.(HT image)
         

New Delhi India and South Korea are looking to boost their business and defence ties through two upcoming meetings, including a “Strategic Economic Dialogue” this week that will serve as the umbrella for all economic cooperation.

People familiar with developments said Amitabh Kant, CEO of NITI Aayog, the Indian government’s policy think tank, and Lee Ho-seung, advisor on economic affairs to the South Korean president, will lead the dialogue in Delhi on October 24.

By the yearend, the two sides are expected to hold their first official-level “2+2” dialogue between their defence and foreign ministries, the people cited above said. The dates for the 2+2 dialogue, first mooted in a joint statement issued after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Seoul in 2015, are currently being finalised.

The two initiatives dovetail with India’s “Act East” policy and South Korea’s “New Southern Policy” and are aimed at giving fresh impetus to economic and security ties.

“The Strategic Economic Dialogue will become an umbrella for all economic cooperation between South Korea and India so that both countries complement each other and reap the benefits of synergised efforts for further sustainable growth,” said a person familiar with planning for the dialogue who declined to be named.

South Korea’s focus is to work with India to usher in the fourth industrial revolution and to use it for the benefit of both sides, the person added.

The dialogue is being held at a time when Samsung and other South Korean majors are exiting from or downsizing their operations in China because of rising production costs and tariffs. Though these firms are keen to invest in India, they face problems because of red tape and cumbersome procedures and this has resulted in greater investments in Southeast Asian countries such as Vietnam and Indonesia, the people said.

The upcoming 2+2 dialogue, in addition to looking at ways to boost regional cooperation, will finalise a “defence industry roadmap” to facilitate South Korean investments in India’s defence manufacturing sector, the people added.

Cooperation in land systems, aero and naval systems, and research and development was discussed during defence minister Rajnath Singh’s visit to South Korea last month.

During the visit, the two sides signed a naval logistics sharing agreement that will help extend the reach of Indian warships. Such agreements cover replenishment of warships at sea and berthing facilities.

Last year, the Indian Army inducted the K9 Vajra 155mm self-propelled howitzers, which are being built by L&T with support from Hanwha Techwin of South Korea.