India, South Korea eye upgrade for CEPA

With an aim to increase bilateral trade to $50 billion by 2030, India and South Korea have inked 11 MoUs — including an agreement to discuss upgrade of the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA)— at the end of talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, in New Delhi on Tuesday. “We have taken an important step in the form of an early harvest package to further upgrade our Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement,” Modi said in a joint address to the media along with Moon after the meeting.“Keeping in view the future of our relationship and the rapid technology changes across the world, we have decided to set up an innovation cooperation centre and form a future strategy group,” he said. Modi lauded Korean companies for not only investing in India but also creating employment opportunities under the Make-in-India initiative. “Korean companies have become household names in India for their commitment to quality of their products.”Following Tuesday’s talks, the two sides also released a vision document to further strengthen their special strategic partnership. “Our focus is to further strengthen our special strategic partnership,” Modi said, adding, “economic and commercial ties is an important pillar of this”. The visiting leader said that he is pressing ahead with the ‘New Southern Policy’ that seeks to make India South Korea’s key partner for cooperation.In November last year, Moon announced his New Southern Policy that seeks to make the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) regional bloc a diplomatic and economic partner as important as the global super powers. “By facilitating exchange between the people of our two countries, we have decided to broaden the scope of our mutual understanding,” the South Korean President said.“We have agreed to make mutual summit-level visits on a regular basis and also expand high-level consultations between the two countries.” The two sides signed a joint statement on early harvest package of the upgraded Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) that came into operation in 2010, by identifying key areas for trade liberalisation.A memorandum of understanding was signed that is aimed at dealing with anti-dumping, subsidy, countervailing and safeguard measures through consultations and exchange of information through establishment of a cooperation committee comprising government officials and experts.Another MoU was signed for the formation of a future strategy group for cooperation in development of cutting edge technologies for commercialisation to reap benefits of the 4th industrial revolution. The India-South Korea relationship was elevated to that of a special strategic partnership during Modi’s visit to that country in 2015. Modi said that India’s Act East Policy that seeks to strengthen ties with Southeast Asia has natural commonalities with President Moon’s New Southern Policy.