Why is South Korea a Vital “Cog in the Wheel” for India’s Act East Policy?

India-South Korea Summit: While India Promotes Act East Policy, South Korea Seeks Support for the ‘New Southern Policy.’

India-South Korea Bilateral Trade and Defence Relations are high on agenda as the South Korean President is slated to visit Delhi to cement India-South Korea Ties. India will look to align India’s Act East Policy with the developments in India-South Korea Relations, including Defence and Trade, while Seoul, on the other hand, will seek encouragement for its ‘New Southern Policy.’

The New Southern Policy of Moon Jae-in, the South Korean President was unveiled in November 2017. It aims at diversification of trade through enhanced ties in Southeast Asia. So, both the countries would be looking forward to aligning the Act East policy with the New Southern policy. According to a South Korean diplomat, India and South Korea will discuss a wide range of initiatives and agreements. As much as 20 MOUs maybe singed in this India-South Korea summit next month.

India-South Korea Ties: Focus on Security and Defence

The larger focus of the course of India-South Korea relations will be on cooperation in defence and security. Both India and South Korea are looking forward to this summit next week to push their own respective policies. India would be keen to push its Act East policy forward.

In the last bilateral meet between the two nations last year, an agreement to manufacture artillery guns for the Indian armed forces was agreed upon. In addition to this, an agreement for cooperation in shipbuilding was also signed between India and South Korea. The strength of India- South Korea relations will define the further course of the regional aspirations of both these nations.

Why India Needs South Korea?

India’s Act East policy to counter China’s regional influence depends on seeking cooperation from nations in the region. Any step forward in enhancing cooperation in security and defence with nations in South Asia and Southeast Asia should be seen as an opportunity by India. If India can lobby well and have strong allies like South Korea stand behind, then the Act East policy is more likely to succeed comprehensively.

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