Interaction with H.E. Mr. Hyun Cho, Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to India
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On 21 June 2016, VIF hosted the Ambassador of South Korea to India H.E. Hyun Cho for an internal discussion on ‘India-South Korea relations and the way forward’. A large panel of eminent policy experts, Air Marshal PS Ahluwalia, Amb Ashok Sajjanhar, Amb Ashok Kantha and Mr. CD Sahay, among others, interacted with the visiting diplomat in a free and candid exchange of views across the entire bilateral spectrum, including trade and commerce, political and security relations and people to people exchanges, among others.

In his opening remarks, General NC Vij, Director, VIF, underscored that ever since the formalisation of diplomatic relationship between South Korea and India in 1973, bilateral cooperation between the two countries has progressed steadily and satisfactorily, with economy taking the centre stage in bilateral relationship. While a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) was signed between the two countries way back in 2010, both sides also agreed to upgrade their relationship to a Special Strategic Partnership in 2015, indicators that the bilateral cooperation has been continually on the upswing. However, the present framework of economic engagement under the CEPA needs a review, especially keeping in view the fact that not only India suffers a huge trade imbalance with South Korea, but also the fact that bilateral trade itself hasn’t made much progress over the past few years.

The Director, however, added that ‘Make in India’ offers new investment opportunities to the South Korean companies, many of which are already household names in India. Terming South Korea and India as natural partners, General Vij stressed that both South Korea and India are confronted with inimical neighbours--North Korea and Pakistan, respectively--both enjoying a common patronage, an obvious reference to China. A whole range of areas in defence and security cooperation - cyber security, maritime security cooperation and ship-building, among others, were also identified for cooperation by the Director in his opening remarks.

Ambassador Hyun Cho, on his part, started off by giving his impressions about India as he gathered them during the first seven months of his tenure in India. His Excellency said that in many ways India resembled South Korea in the 1970s. The Indian economy is being largely fuelled by the rising aspirations of the ordinary people, especially the youth.

Endorsing the policy reforms initiated by the present NDA government since 2014, he said India would emerge as the ‘big size America’ provided she stayed the course and clocked a two-digit growth over the next two decades. Among other highlights of his talk, H.E. Hyun Cho said India offered a model of harmony and tolerance for other religions to a world increasingly torn apart by radical extremism. Insofar as increasing the scope for bilateral economic engagement is concerned, it is an opportune time for both countries, he concurred. While India is looking to ramp up its manufacturing sector with foreign investments, South Korean companies, wary of China’s unfettered economic slump, are looking for new avenues for investment, a win-win situation for both. South Koreans, having developed recently, have a wealth of experiences to share with their Indian counterparts. A lively interaction followed the talk by the South Korean Ambassador. During the interactive session, both sides examined the possibilities for multi-sectoral engagement, including cooperation in the field of smart cities, energy, agriculture, academia and security, among many others.

Event Date 
June 21, 2016
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