India, South Korea to double trade to $40bn by 2015
SEOUL INDICATIVE of a growing closeness, India and South Korea on Sunday aimed to double their annual trade to $40 billion by 2015, boosted military ties and eased visa norms to promote more business contacts.
“Bilateral trade has risen by 65 percent over the past two years since the implementation of our Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement. We have therefore set a new target of $40 billion by 2015,” visiting Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said at a joint media interaction with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak after their summit talks in Seoul.
“We also agreed to accelerate work in progress to upgrade the Agreement and make it more ambitious,” added Manmohan Singh, who concluded his two-day official visit to South Korea that came ahead of the March 26-27 Nuclear Security Conference in Seoul.
This is Manmohan Singh’s second visit to South Korea in two years. He was in Seoul in 2010 for the G-20 summit.
Lee was the chief guest at India’s Republic Day parade in 2010, while Indian President Pratibha Patil had visited Seoul last July, when the two countries signed an agreement on civil nuclear cooperation.
Manmohan Singh was accorded a ceremonial reception at the Blue House presidential palace, where, with a bone-chilling breeze blowing, he inspected a guard of honour made up of soldiers dressed in contemporary and traditional uniforms and interacted with Indian and South Korean schoolchildren who enthusiastically waved flags of the two countries.
After the talks, Lee hosted a lunch for Manmohan Singh at the Blue House.
The talks, Manmohan Singh said, were “aimed at adding momentum and substance to our strategic partnership.
Ours is a partnership built on shared values that provide a firm foundation for further development”, adding the two leaders “agreed that our strong economic ties are fundamental to our growing interaction”.
“I invited Korean firms to invest in India in a big way.
Companies such as LG, Hyundai and Samsung are already household names in India. We would like to see small and medium-sized Korean companies also making India a base for their manufacturing,” the prime minister said.
“I informed President Lee that India is making a huge effort in upgrading our physical infrastructure. We want Korean companies to help us realise this objective and benefit from the opportunities provided by this,” Manmohan Singh added.
Noting that the two countries had agreed to expand political and security cooperation, the prime minister said: “With this objective in mind, I informed President Lee of India’s decision to position a defence attache at our embassy here in Seoul before the end of the year.” At a briefing later for the Indian media accompanying the prime minister, Sanjay Singh, secretary (east) in the external affairs ministry, asserted that these growing relations would not impact ties with China.
“Our relations with one country are not predicated on ties with other countries,” he said.