By Song Kyung-jin

Next year marks the golden jubilee of Korea-India diplomatic ties. The golden jubilee could be translated into an opportune moment for bilateral relations to be upgraded to the next level with a set of concrete cooperation projects that are more ambitious and action-oriented in regard to cooperation. Korea and India, two thriving democracies in the Indo-Pacific region, are natural partners for many reasons.

India's geopolitical and geoeconomic importance is increasing ever more rapidly. India, currently the world's fifth-largest economy, is forecast to be the third-largest by 2050 after China and the United States. South Korea, will be the ninth-largest. Their bilateral trade in the first half of 2022 reached $14.2 billion, the largest volume in the first half ever. It, however, is far below the potential of the two Asian economies.

On Nov. 11, President Yoon announced, at the ASEAN Summit in Phnom Penh, the vision of Korea's Indo-Pacific strategy for "a free, peaceful, and prosperous Indo-Pacific." Korea is slated to present its Indo-Pacific strategy to the world in totality by year-end. Changing geopolitical and geoeconomic circumstances constantly provide new impetus for adjusting and fine-tuning such a strategy.

The geographical boundaries of Korea's Indo-Pacific strategy expand farther to Africa's Indian Ocean and Europe. Consequently, the importance of increasing cooperation with India, a key country in the Indo-Pacific region, will be emphasized. Korea would also benefit from India's established strong influence, reach and networks in the countries bordering the African Indian Ocean region.

On Dec. 1, India assumed the G-20 presidency, with the next summit scheduled for Sept. 9-10, 2023. For the next year, the world expects a growing role for India as the new G-20 chair, looking to solve the critical challenges confronting the world and the region.

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his wish on the day India commenced its G20 presidency to present India's experiences, learnings and models as possible templates for the developing world, in particular. He also stated that India has leveraged technology to create digital public goods that are open, inclusive and interoperable.

In both areas, Korea has unique and successful experiences that it can share with the developing world jointly with India. Korea was instrumental in integrating the concept of development into the G-20 agenda during its G-20 presidency in 2010. Korea and India can further deliberate on and recalibrate the G-20 action plan for development, with particular emphasis on infrastructure collaboration. Such infrastructure partnership should not be confined to bilateral cooperation but expand into trilateral, minilateral and/or plurilateral projects in the Indo-Pacific region where there is a huge infrastructure deficit.

With an urbanization rate of 35.9 percent as of 2022, India invites greater infrastructure cooperation. It is raising its profile in development assistance to finance many infrastructure projects ― housing, transportation, solar, power, bridges, ports, digital, etc. ― in South Asia and the African Indian Ocean region. These are the areas where Korea, too, has a big stake in trade and security. The Korea-India infrastructure partnership could also drum up existing regional minilateral infrastructure partnerships to become more vibrant. Both countries should leverage their position in the Indo-Pacific region.

It is imperative for the two countries to mobilize public-private partnerships for better functioning and effective collaboration in infrastructure and other critical areas such as global supply chain resilience and digital transformation. To this end, setting up a regular business forum between Korea and India is essential.

Areas in need of bilateral cooperation encompass technology, semiconductors, defense, biopharmaceuticals, climate and renewable energy. For example, Korea's semiconductor exports to India jumped 95 percent in the first half of 2022, laying the groundwork for more mutually beneficial cooperation.

Given the growing significance of reliable and resilient technology cooperation, Korea should engage more actively on various levels in the BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) process that is gaining more traction in the sub-region and the Indo-Pacific.

The impact of COVID-19 is still around. India wants to include ― in next year's G-20 discussions ― the role of multilateral development banks in regional and global efforts concerning the pandemic response and preparedness. In tandem with this, closer and more resilient vaccine and biopharmaceutical partnerships need to be forged bilaterally.

As part of their development assistance, the two countries can forge a trilateral or minilateral vaccine partnership with African Indian Ocean countries. It makes not just health sense but also business sense. The Economist Intelligence Unit predicts that healthcare spending per head, for instance, will rise by 4.7 percent globally in 2023 and pharmaceutical sales will increase by 5.1 percent. Asia will be one of the fastest-growing pharmaceutical markets.

Nevertheless, without a deeper understanding of each other, the two countries will end up making only a small step forward at best. More people-to-people exchange programs are urgently needed among universities, think tanks, journalists, businesses, women and youth and others.


Dr. Song Kyung-jin (kj_song@hotmail.com) led the Institute for Global Economics (IGE), based in Seoul and served as special adviser to the chairman of the Presidential Committee for the Seoul G20 Summit in the Office of the President. Now, she is executive director of the Innovative Economy Forum.




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Golden jubilee for closer Korea-India ties

20 0 0
06.12.2022
By Song Kyung-jin

Next year marks the golden jubilee of Korea-India diplomatic ties. The golden jubilee could be translated into an opportune moment for bilateral relations to be upgraded to the next level with a set of concrete cooperation projects that are more ambitious and action-oriented in regard to cooperation. Korea and India, two thriving democracies in the Indo-Pacific region, are natural partners for many reasons.

India's geopolitical and geoeconomic importance is increasing ever more rapidly. India, currently the world's fifth-largest economy, is forecast to be the third-largest by 2050 after China and the United States. South Korea, will be the ninth-largest. Their bilateral trade in the first half of 2022 reached $14.2 billion, the largest volume in the first half ever. It, however, is far below the potential of the two Asian economies.

On Nov. 11, President Yoon announced, at the ASEAN Summit in Phnom Penh, the vision of Korea's Indo-Pacific strategy for "a free, peaceful, and prosperous Indo-Pacific." Korea is slated to present its Indo-Pacific strategy to the world in totality by year-end. Changing geopolitical and geoeconomic circumstances constantly provide new impetus for adjusting and fine-tuning such a strategy.

The geographical boundaries of Korea's Indo-Pacific strategy expand farther to Africa's Indian Ocean and Europe. Consequently, the importance of increasing cooperation with India, a key country in the........

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