By Publisher Lee Kyung-sik and Editor Kevin Lee
Korea and India have a strong economic partnership which is rapidly growing and expanding in many areas. In fact, Korea and India are very, very friendly and close countries to each other.
The relationship between Korea and India boasts long-standing historical and cultural ties, spanning over two millennia. The two countries forged diplomatic relations in 1973, paving the way for a sound and steady development in bilateral relations across a wide range of areas, including politics, economy and culture.
According to the Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the signing of the Korea-India Special Strategic partnership agreement in 2015 and the launching of the New Southern Policy by the Korean Government in 2017, a policy that is in syncronization with the Prime Minister Narendra Modi government’s Act East Policy, have led to a turnaround in the bilateral ties between the two countries.
The state visits of the Korean President to India in July 2018 and of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Korea in February 2019 have further taken the bilateral ties and friendship between the two countries to a new high.
As a fast-emerging power, India holds vast potential and opportunities for bilateral cooperation. Nearly 700 Korean companies, both big and small, have entered the Indian market and increased their investments.
With K-Pop and other Korean Wave contents gaining popularity among the Indian youth, interest of Indian people in Korean culture and language is steadily growing. In milestone developments, Korean history was included in the Indian school text-books in 2018 and Korean language was offered as a foreign language in Indian secondary schools in 2020.
Around 10,000 Korean nationals live in India and they serve as the backbone of strong bilateral relationship.
In fact, Korea and India are very, very friendly and close countries to each other in many areas, especially in trade and economic relations.
According to data from the Korean Ministry of Trade, Industry & Energy (MOTIE), bilateral trade between Korea and India reached US$23.7 billion in 2021, surpassing US$21.5 billion in 2018.
This was the highest-ever trade volume between Korea and India, representing a 40% increase over the previous year's total of US$16.9 billion.
Korea's exports to India increased by 30.7% to US$15.6 billion, while imports increased by 64.4% to US$8.1 billion, resulting in a US$7.5 billion trade surplus.
This increase in exports and imports was aided by a rebound in economic activity and industrial output during July to December period.
The trade volume increased from US$10.97 billion in the first half (January-June) to US$12.69 billion in the second half (July-December).
Korea's exports to India have risen above the pre-pandemic level. In 2021, it was worth US$15.60 billion, which was the second-highest export value since 2018 when it stood at US$15.61 billion.
The average monthly export value reached around US$1.4 billion in the second half of 2021, with a monthly export high of US$1.5 billion in September.
Furthermore, exports increased by 24 percent to US$8.2 billion from July to December, up from US$6.6 billion in the same period last year.
The top ten Korean exports to India registered double digits or triple digits growth due to high demand for infrastructure-related items such as steel and mineral fuels.
The steel showed a triple-digit growth from May to August (431% in May, 209% in June, 324% in July, and 121% in August) compared to the same period in the previous year.
Korea's imports from India in 2021 set a new record of US$8.06 billion, making it the country's highest annual imports from India. In fact, its monthly imports surpassed US$700 million for the first time in March and reached US$4.49 billion in the second half of 2021 (July-December).
In 2021, all major imported items from India showed a significant increase. In particular, iron ore and aluminum imports experienced triple-digit growth rates of 215.5% and 143.6 %, respectively.
According to data from the Export-Import Bank of Korea, Korean investments in India amounted to US$226 million as of September 2021. Korea invested US$96 million in the first quarter (Jan-Mar), US$37 million in the second quarter (Apr-Jun), and US$93 million in the third quarter (Jul-Sep) of 2021.
India's investment in Korea reached US$2.02 million in 2021, a modest increase from US$1.43 million in 2020. India invested US$180,000 in the first quarter (Jan.-Mar.), US$440,000 in the second quarter (Apr.-Jun.), US$170,000 in the third quarter (Jul.-Sep.) and 1.22 million in the fourth quarter (Oct.-Dec.). Indian investment in Korea only had a temporary surge in 2013 and 2019 due to Mahindra and Mahindra’s investment in Ssangyong Motor.
According to Fundoodata of India, there are hundreds of Korean companies in India actively engaged in economic-commercial cooperation between the two countries and among them sand out 10 major Korean companies.
A brief introduction to each of them follows:
Hyundai Motor India Ltd (HMIL):
This company was founded in the year 1996. It is headquartered in Tamil Nadu. It completely owned subsidiary of Hyundai Motor company headquartered in South Korea. It is one of the leading automobile manufacturers. HMIL has two manufacturing plants in Irungattukottai, Sriperumbudur, Chennai, Tamil Nadu. HMIL’s manufacturing plant near Chennai claims to have the most advanced production, quality, and testing capabilities in the country. It is one of the top South Korean companies in India.
Hyundai Steel India Pvt Ltd.:
The company was established as Korea’s first steelmaker in 1953. Hyundai Steel’s major products are hot rolled steel, cold-rolled steel, steel plate, ERW Pipe, Automotive Bar, Re-forcing Bar, Special Steel, Heavy Machinery, Roll, Stainless Steel.
As a steel mill specialized in automotive materials, Hyundai Steel is heavily engaged in the development of next-generation steel for the future automotive industry. It is one of the top South Korean Companies in India.
LG Electronics India Pvt Ltd.:
It is headquartered in Yeouido-dong, Seoul, South Korea. It is dealing with the consumer electronics and home appliances industry. LG comprises four business units: Home Entertainment, Home Appliances & Air Solutions, Mobile Communications, and Vehicle Components. It is one of the top South Korean companies in India.
Samsung India Electronics Pvt Ltd.:
The company was formerly referred to as Samsung Electric Industries. It was founded in the year 1969 and is headquartered in Samsung Digital City. Samsung is a major manufacturer of electronic components such as lithium-ion batteries, semiconductors, chips, flash memory, and hard drive devices for clients such as Sony, Apple, HTC, and Nokia.
It is one of the top South Korean companies in India.
Cheil India Pvt Ltd.:
Cheil Worldwide was founded in the year 1973. It is headquartered in Seoul, South Korea. It provides a wide range of services including advertising, public relations, shopper marketing, sports marketing, digital marketing, etc. Its major clients include Samsung, Absolut, Adidas, Coca-Cola, GE, General Motors, Lego, Microsoft, Nestle, etc. Its major subsidiary is Samsung Sports.
Hanon Automotive Systems India Pvt Ltd.:
The technology innovator company was formed in the year 1986 as a traditional automotive climate supplier. It is full-time thermal and energy management solution, provider. Hanon is dealing with ICE thermal management, EV thermal management system as well as turbo and supercharge solutions.
IL Jin Electronics India Pvt Ltd.: The company was founded in the year 1973. It has led the global wheel-bearing market through growth and innovation. It is offering a wide range of products including bearings, suspension/steering, etc. It is one of the top South Korean companies in India.
LG Soft India Pvt Ltd.:
The company is the innovation wing of LG Electronics in Bangalore. It is one of the leading R&D centers outside Korea. Its major focus is on digital video broadcast, mobile application development, bio-metrics software, and support. It was established in the year 1996 and headquartered in Bangalore as a part of the LG group.
It is one of the top players in the global communication and electronics industry.
The company was founded in the year 1897. It is headquartered in Seoul, South Korea. It is offering a wide range of products including checking accounts, savings account. Shinhan Bank is the descendant of Hanseong Bank, the first modern bank in Korea. It was started as a small enterprise in the year 1982.
Havmor Ice Cream Ltd (Lotte):
Havmor Ice Cream Ltd comes under the parent organization Lotte Confectionery which is headquartered in Seoul, South Korea. The company was started by Mr. Satish Chona in the year 1944. The company manufactures dairy products and is located in Ahmedabad. The company offers ice cream and other frozen desserts such as cones, candies, cups, Kulfi, roll cuts, and combo packs. It is one of the top South Korean companies in India.