India - South Korea Strategic Partnership IAS Target

India - South Korea Strategic Partnership

05 May 2020

Category : International Relations

Topic: India - South Korea Strategic Partnership

India-RoK trade relations

  • Major Korean conglomerates (Chaebols) like LG, Hyundai, and Samsung Motors have made significant investments into India.
  • Indian investments in RoK have already exceeded $ 1 billion. Seoul is also pushing its middle and small scale enterprises to enter India in view of harsh challenges they are facing in China.
  • Korean companies shown its interest to partner with India’s flagship initiatives like ‘Digital India’, ‘Make in India’, ‘Skill India’, ‘Smart Cities Mission’ and ‘Start-up India’.
  • Other measures are included such as:
    • Setting up a New Trade Order Strategy Office
    • Pushing the conclusion of the rising regional trade mechanism called Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) accord in which India is a member.

Korean administration has decided to establish the Korea-India Future Strategy Group and the India-Korea Centre for Research and Innovation Cooperation (IKCRI). The latter is anticipated to provide an institutional framework for cooperation based on innovation, research, and entrepreneurship ‘Korea Plus’ mechanism under the Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP) to increase the presence of South Korean companies in India. Various campaigns and events have been organised to create awareness amongst the Korean firms. India is receiving many business proposals, that it now plans to promote the ‘Korea Plus’ initiative into a ‘Korea Square’ mechanism.

Korea Plus initiative

  • India and Korea have revealed a Korea Plus initiative to advance and facilitate Korean investments in India.
  • Korea Plus comprises of a representative each from the trade and energy, Korean ministry of industry, Korea Promotion and Trade Investment Agency as well as three representatives from Invest India — the national investment promotion and facilitation agency of India.

RoK-India defence relations

Defence Minister tripped to RoK in September 2010. MoUs on Defence Cooperation, as well as, b/w Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) of India and Defence Acquisition Programme Administration (DAPA) of RoK for cooperation in R&D was signed.

Strategic and Geopolitics relations b/w Rok and India

  • Korea has emphasized that India was his country’s “key partner” in the region and that India should be treated as a great power. India also looks at South Korea as an important partner in its Act East Policy (AEP).
  • The two countries are currently working towards a new diplomatic mechanism in the 2+2 format. Once it is operationalised, RoK would become the 3rd country to hold such a dialogue with India, after the United States and Japan.
  • Some new initiatives are being taken:
    • Business through easy visa procedures
    • Facilitation and Internships of tourism
    • To promote closer people-to-people ties through youth exchange programmes

  • South Korea has revealed its wish to cooperate with India to secure the sea lines of communication (SLOCs) in the Indian Ocean. The Navy of both countries has conducted a joint drill in the Indian Ocean with a navy of South Korean warships visiting India. It was followed by a joint exercise b/w the coast guards of the two countries.
  • South Korea assist India, in fight against terrorism
  • South Korea assist India bid for permanent membership in UNSC
  • Co-production of the K9 Thunder howitzer is a prime instance of the ongoing defence collaboration.
  • As a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), Rok has assisted India’s bid for membership.

India's Act East Policy

  • India's Act East Policy focuses on the extended neighborhood in the Asia-Pacific area.
  • India has promoted its relations to a strategic partnership with Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Japan, Australia, Republic of Korea (ROK), Singapore, and Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and forged close relations with all countries in the Asia-Pacific region.
  • The policy which was conceived as an economic initiative, has gained strategic, cultural, and political dimensions including the establishment of institutional mechanisms for cooperation and dialogue.
  • Apart from ASEAN, ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) and East Asia Summit (EAS), India has also been energetically engaged in regional fora like:
    • Mekong Ganga Cooperation (MGC)
    • Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA)
    • Asia Cooperation Dialogue (ACD)
    • Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC)

Act East Policy has stressed on India-ASEAN cooperation in our domestic agenda on infrastructure, trade, skills, urban renewal, manufacturing, smart cities, Make in India and other initiatives. Cooperation in space, connectivity projects, and people-to-people exchanges could become a springboard for regional prosperity and integration.

New Southern Policy

  • Korea's trade has been dependent on China and the United States. Over the past three years (2015‒2017), China and the United States accounted for 38.1% of Korea's total exports.

  • If Korea is to set up a foreign economic policy that maximizes its profits with confidence, it should first expand its trade structure centered on a few certain countries and reduce its external risks.

  • South Korea has experienced difficulties in its relations with China in 2016 due to the THAAD issue and has also experienced difficulties in exporting to the U.S.

  • The New Southern Policy doesn’t only aim to swap the U.S. and China with new southern regions, but rather to expand its scope of cooperation while maintaining relations with the U.S. and China.

Hence, the vision of the New Southern Policy can be summarized as a strategic foreign policy that pursues the nation's practical interests along with its traditional four major diplomatic partners and new southern regions, based on a more balanced form of diplomacy.

RCEP (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership)

RCEP has introduced b/w the ten member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) (Brunei, Burma (Myanmar), Indonesia, Laos, Cambodia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and the six states with which ASEAN has existing FTAs (Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea, and New Zealand). RCEP negotiations were officially launched in November 2012 at the ASEAN Summit in Cambodia.


RCEP plans to increase goods trade by eradicating most non-tariff and tariff barriers — a move that is anticipated to provide the region’s consumers a greater choice of quality products at reasonable rates. It also seeks to liberalise investment norms and do away with services trade restrictions.

India's Act-East policy is in sync with South Korea's new Southern Policy. India-South Korea wanted a global order based on rule of law, freedom, and peace from terrorism. When RoK wants to lessen its dependence on traditional trade partners and expand its engagement and looking toward the west. Likewise, India also wants to venture into its eastern and South-east sphere. Both have shared competitive and value interest. Both countries should explore how they can complement each other and benefit from their relationship. Climate change also a focus area where these countries help and make this planet beautiful and free from the threat of extinction. So, countries come closer and get the advantage of each other strength and work for global growth and prosperity.