Special report from the the news Times of India new 24th jan 2010
South Korean president Lee Myung-bak is a man of action. As mayor of Seoul, he veritably transformed his country’s capital. Can he do the same relation with the India?
Indrani Bagchi asked him on his first visit to the country as chief guest at this year’s Republic Day celebrations. Excerpts from the interview:
How would you assess the Indo-Korean relationship today?
India has made rapid economic development and contributed to the global economy. I am certain India will continue to make steady progress by harnessing its great potential.
Since the establishment of diplomatic ties in 1973, Indo-Korean relations have become stronger through vibrant exchanges in a wide range of fields, including foreign policy and security issues, economy and trade, science and technology, and education and culture. In particular, the two countries have witnessed remarkable progress in the economic sector.
Bilateral trade increased eight times in a decade from $2.1 billion in 1999 to $15.6 billion in 2008. In addition, many Korean companies have successfully established favourable images in India. We are also closely collaborating within the framework of the G-20 summit in an effort to address the global financial and economic crisis.
South Korea will be hosting the G-20 summit this year. What issues do you think will dominate the agenda?
The G-20 summit will focus on global post-crisis economic management. We will also discuss and follow-up on various policies that will ensure a strong, sustainable and balanced growth of the global economy, following its recovery.
Other crucial topics expected to be on the agenda include how to carry out agreements reached in the previous G-20 summits. They include ways to accomplish a rebalancing of the global economy; reforms in the governance structure of international financial institutions such as a readjustment of the IMF quota; and supervision of large financial institutions.
South Korea is now a leader in “green growth”. Do you see India becoming a partner in this sector? If so, how?
India has abundant natural resources and outstanding human resources, so we can work closely together in the following areas: low-carbon technology, development of clean energy, including new renewable energy and nuclear energy; green transportation, including electric vehicles and railroads; and energy-efficient technologies, including electrical power grids and low-carbon industrial processes.
Economic ties are the bulwark of the Indo-Korean relationship. But surely there are other areas with potential for growth?
South Korea’s forte is in IT hardware manufacturing while India’s is in IT services. In this respect, it is possible to produce synergy in the IT area between the two countries. I look forward to seeing the joint participation of software companies from both countries in building an IT infrastructure in India.
Also, it would be great to see Indian software professionals working in South Korea’s manufacturing sector, and an enhanced collaboration in the area of Mobile-WiMAX, wireless broadband Internet technology. In addition, Korea has the know-how in constructing power and petrochemical plants as well as oil and gas plants.
The POSCO project in Orissa has been delayed, though efforts are being made to fast track it. What are your expectations from the Indian government?
The project will become an exemplary model of industrial cooperation that combines Korea’s know-how in the steel industry and capital with India’s resources and market. The Indian government should continue to show interest in and provide assistance for the remaining procedures, including the acquisition of mineral rights needed to secure raw materials.
The Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) between South Korea and India took effect from January. How will it transform bilateral relations?
It is the first such agreement between South Korea and one of the BRIC countries. It is significant that the agreement will be able to serve as a bridge to bolster economic and trade relations between Northeast and Southwest Asia. India’s high-flying economic growth has prompted a surge in bilateral trade and investment between our two countries. I am certain that this trend will further expand with the inception of the CEPA.
What is the future of Indo-Korean relations?
South Korea and India, though geographically far apart, have shared close historic and emotional bonds. In a poem written when Korea was under Japanese colonial rule, Rabindranath Tagore referred to South Korea as the “lamp of the East.”
It gave an enormous boost to the oppressed Koreans at that time. Since the 1970s, there have been active people-to-people exchanges involving workers from both our countries. Currently, there are about 9,000 Koreans staying in India with about 7,000 Indians living in South Korea.
one can visit the website and the page given below.