Promising partnershipPresident Lee Myung-bak is in India on a state visit timed for the launch of an extensive bilateral trade deal with the world’s second-most populated country. The Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, or CEPA, is similar to a free trade agreement but falls short of completely eliminating duties assessed on traded goods. The agreement took effect in January after gaining the necessary cabinet and legislative approvals in both countries last year.
President Lee chose India as the destination for his first foreign mission of the year, and the country invited him to visit during the its biggest national holiday, Republic Day, which falls today. These two elements of the visit underscore the countries’ commitment to extending bilateral economic cooperation and maximizing the benefits of the new trade agreement.
India is a gigantic market with a population of 1.17 billion and an economy that is growing at the second-fastest pace in the world. It excels in the information technology, aerospace, basic science and biomedical fields. Its movie industry, dubbed Bollywood, is quickly making inroads into overseas markets.
Korea has a leading edge in technology, electronics, shipping, automobiles and steel manufacturing as well as experience moving up the economic ladder in the ranks of developed countries.
The potential mutual gains in this partnership are immense.
Korea will sign a cooperation agreement with India in science and technology and space research during Lee’s visit. The two countries also will lay the groundwork for a future nuclear energy agreement.
India has been displaying interest in nuclear energy cooperation ever since Korea won a large contract to build reactors in the Middle East. A similar deal with India would be very significant, as it would allow the president to accentuate his signature business-minded diplomacy.
We hope the two countries will move toward a new future-oriented partnership and work toward mutual prosperity.
After Lee’s visit, it will be important to outline more detailed steps to accomplish the goals the nations set out and keep up the momentum.