Korea must focus on India

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Korea must focus on India

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been in Korea for a two-day state visit. A business symposium was the first item on his agenda. The Indian leader is credited for helping the economy grow more than 7 percent annually through privatization, deregulation and liberalization since taking office in 2014. IT cooperation will be a top topic during his summit talks with South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

The economic importance of India does not need to be mentioned. It is the world’s second-most populous country and the world’s sixth-largest economy, with a gross domestic product of $2.6 trillion. Its potential is also immense.

The country is projected to become the fifth-largest economy this year and may even threaten No. 2 China by 2024. Moreover, it is a technology powerhouse. It has already become a hotbed for start-ups. Over 22,000 start-ups are active in the country. Of them, 14 have already joined the ranks of unicorns that are valued at more than $1 billion. The burgeoning environment can be attractive to Korean IT enterprises.

The Moon Jae-in administration has been pursuing its New Southern Policy to elevate its relationships with the Southeast Asian region and India. But attention and investment are lacking. Japan’s investment in India since 2000 has reached $29 billion, more than ten times South Korea’s. The leaders of India and Japan visit one another every year.

Since President Roh Moo-hyun, South Korean leaders have only gone on state visits to India once a term. China, too, has been making fast inroads to India. The investment environment in India remains poor, with lacking infrastructure and complex regulations and business practices in different regions.

But opportunities do not fall from the skies. They must be sought and fought for. Korea must ride on the back of a galloping India for its next economic leap.

JoongAng Ilbo, Feb. 22, Page 30
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