By admin February 21, 2019 09:52

India-South Korea: Strategic Partners

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is on a two visit to South Korea. He will hold a summit meeting with South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in which is the second such meeting between both the leaders.

Relations between both nations have made great stride in the recent past and have now become multidimensional owing to mutual good will, high level exchanges and convergence of interests. India is among 10 trade partners of South Korea and 6th largest destination for Korean goods. Korean investments in India have reached a cumulative figure of almost 6 billion dollars.

While India has Act East Policy, South Korea has its New Southern Policy which focusses on strengthening it’s economic and strategic relations with Southeast Asia and India.

Focus areas

  • India and South Korea already have a strong trade and investment relationship.
  • South Korea had signalled for a much stronger partnership with India during the South Korean premier’s visit last year.
  • The focus areas between the two countries would be
  • The Indian Ocean – Indo naval exercises had been held between both the countries for the first time last year. Prime Minister has always advocated for an open and inclusive Indo-pacific policy meant to counter China’s aggressive rise in the Indian Ocean.
  • Military cooperation – India is considering buying some weapons from South Korea.
  • Investment – Besides the private investment, South Korea proposed a $10 billion infrastructure fund for India.
  • Electronics industry – Indians are worried about the growing presence of Chinese electronics in India and whether 5G would be introduced through Chinese phones. South Korea is one of the largest developers of smart phones in the world and Samsung from South Korea have also built one of the largest plants in the world in Gurugram. Indians are thus looking forward to more Korean leadership in the manufacturing of smart phones in the country
  • Trade – India had signed Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement with South Korea in 2009. But trade between both the countries did not grow significantly and stood at $21.5 billion last year which was a 30% increase over the previous year.

Indo-pacific strategy

India is seen to have three side to the Indo-pacific strategy –

  1. Indo-Japanese access designed completely to counter China and driven by the bilateral concern about the rise of China
  2. Trilateral exercise – MALABAR with India, US and Japan which is a 100% military exercise
  3. Quad grouping which has US, Australia, Japan and India seen as a proto alliance by China. But India has not considered this group very much as other members have not been involved very much.

South Koreas stand

  • For South Korea, China and US are two biggest trading partners.
  • Experts say that South Korea is looking beyond China as well towards India as part of its Southern policy.
  • S.Korea is nervous about China and has a difficult relationship with Japan.
  • But it is very close to US and their only concern is US withdrawal from North Korea. It is also looking forward to India to prevent US from doing the same.
  • South Korea is diversifying its relations towards the North and the South to have a balance with all the countries.


  • There is a trust deficit between the businesses of India and South Korea as South Koreans are not very keen in partnering with Indian companies.
  • India has a $50 billion trade deficit with South Korea.

Way forward

  • India and South Korea should meet frequently which will help Indian businesses in working with the South Koreans by a top down approach.
  • Both countries should cooperate on new generation technologies-energy, 5G and core technologies while consolidating the existing partnership.
  • South Korea, being a technologically powerful nation after Japan in Asia would help India to become powerful as well.


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By admin February 21, 2019 09:52