South Korea will forge closer economic ties with India by lowering trade barriers and pushing for joint projects in manufacturing and advanced technology sectors, Seoul's trade ministry said Wednesday.
South Korean commerce minister Paik Un-gyu visited India on Tuesday and held a series of meetings with senior Indian officials and businesspeople to seek ways to expand cooperation in various areas, including manufacturing, energy and IT.
The two nations agreed to speed up talks to enhance the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), a type of free trade deal that emphasizes two-way economic cooperation on top of market opening. Seoul and New Delhi will form a consultative body on trade remedies.
In 2010, the two nations implemented CEPA to eliminate or cut tariffs on goods over the next decade and began talks in June 2016 to include the service and investment sectors in the pact. So far, the two sides have met four times for talks.
The CEPA improvement negotiations are expected to boost South Korea's investment in India and its efforts to diversify export markets in the face of growing protectionist practices in major trading partners, including the United States and China.
"We need to beef up cooperation not only in major trade areas, including steel, chemical and autos, but in areas related to the fourth industrial revolution, as India has world-class technologies in advanced industries, such as IT, aerospace and healthcare," the ministry said in a release.
The two nations also discussed ways to expand cooperation in the renewable energy sector and on joint development of electric vehicles to foster the emerging sectors.
India has been wooing foreign companies under Prime Minister Narendra Modi's ambition to turn his country into a power house of high-tech manufacturing via the "Make in India" campaign.
Two-way trade reached US$15.8 billion in 2016, with India becoming South Korea's sixth-largest export destination, according to government data.