India, South Korea to boost defence industry cooperation


Seoul, India and South Korea agreed on Friday to strengthen military ties and defence industry cooperation between the two countries. After a one-on-one meeting and an expanded session involving their aides, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Moon Jae-in agreed to bolster military and defence production cooperation and to better cope with the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae said. Later at a joint press conference, Modi said that both the countries have agreed to a roadmap in defence technology and co-production. The prime minister invited South Korean companies to invest in defence industrial corridors in India. The two leaders agreed to speed up negotiations to enhance the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), the free trade agreement between the two countries, which took effect in January 2010. Seven rounds of talks have so far been held to push for further market liberalisation. Both assured steps to closely cooperate to achieve their shared goal of more than doubling trade volume to $50 billion by 2030. Last year, two-way trade reached a record $21.5 billion, with India becoming South Korea's seventh-largest export destination. To this end, the nations agreed to complete the CEPA-related negotiations at an early date and seek to improve trade-related systems for easier market access. "We've agreed to expand the scope of cooperation in many fields ranging from infrastructure development to agriculture and fisheries," said Moon. The leaders also discussed the possibility of South Korean firms' participation in India's construction of a nuclear power plant, according to Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom. India asked for Seoul's participation in its plan to build an additional seven nuclear reactors. "South Korea has built nuclear reactors with its indigenous technology for the past 40 years. Its technology is internationally recognized in terms of safety and economic feasibility," Kim quoted Moon as saying. "If India builds nuclear reactors, Korean companies will make a big contribution. We will appreciate it if India gives a lot of chances to Korean firms," he added. Moon and Modi also agreed to expand human, cultural and tourism exchanges.South Koreans will be permitted to stay in India for three years and Seoul will issue a group tour visa for Indian people. As for the area of future-oriented cooperation, the two nations picked space exploration and agreed to seek various projects, including a joint exploration of the moon. Moon hosted a state luncheon for Modi, which was also attended by local business leaders, including Lee Jae-yong, vice chairman of Samsung Electronics Co., and Chung Euisun, executive vice chairman of Hyundai Motor Group.