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Inaugural Address by Secretary (East) at the India-Japan-ROK Trilateral Dialogue

June 29, 2012

Dr Arvind Gupta, Director General of IDSA
H.E Mr Akitaka Saiki, Ambassador of Japan
H.E Mr Kim Joong-Keun, Ambassador of Republic of Korea
Distinguished delegates participating in the Dialogue,

I would like to extend a special and warm welcome to the delegates from Japan and South Korea.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

  • It gives me great pleasure and satisfaction in delivering the inaugural address for the 1st India-Japan-South Korea trilateral Dialogue. This event today is an important step in the evolution of our relationships. A trilateral forum such as this gives a significant message not only for the participants but also to the observers as it is a manifestation of greater degree of maturity, trust and mutual understanding amongst the partners. It means that the partners have been able to manage their relationship well and have developed the confidence to talk and find solutions to over-arching issues and concerns both bilateral and regional. This is the prime reason for the sense of contentment that I have alluded to.
  • The second and more personal reason is to see that an idea that was incubated by a few people only a few months ago, two of whom are here today namely Ambassadors Kim and Saiki, has seen fruition. With this Dialogue being held in Delhi today, many of us have a deep sense of achievement in being able to implement an idea whose time and moment I believe has arrived. It is now the responsibility of the three partnering institutions namely IDSA, Korea National Diplomatic Academy and Tokyo Foundation and their eminent scholars and academicians to take the process forward and provide it with meaning and substance. The way that this process will develop and evolve will depend on your imagination and efforts. Our expectation is to see this process generating ideas that will influence the wider relationship existing amongst the partners both at governmental level or at the people-to-people level and how we view our region and emerging Asian architecture. This impact will be good measure of the success of this process.
  • This Dialogue marks a milestone in the history of cooperation between our three countries. The foundation stone for this indeed is the robustness and dynamism of our respective bilateral relationships. Speaking for India, and I believe it holds equally true for Japan and Korea, is the deeply valued strategic partnerships with both Japan and South Korea. In India today there is wide ranging support for the strategic partnerships with Japan and Korea and it is indeed noteworthy that we have been able to constantly re-invent and re-invigorate the relationships. This has been possible because these partnerships are in turn based on something more profound i.e. shared values and goals. These elements are the driving force for the synergy required to propel this trilateral framework. Japan and Korea are already involved in some trilateral processes. We are also involved in a trilateral dialogue with Japan and United States. Our experiences from these processes should inform this dialogue as well and we should from the very beginning calibrate this process to benefit the relationship amongst our countries and our peoples. We can never lose sight of the fact that this process has the unique character of a dialogue between three great democracies of Asia.
  • Being leading democracies of the world we share a common commitment to democratic values, open society, human rights and the rule of law. These shared values provide us similar perspectives and perceptions of the fast evolving regional and global environment. Similarly our strategic interests also coincide. We seek a peaceful and secure Asia free from the threats of terrorism, proliferation, piracy and conflict between states. There is common commitment to maintaining freedom of the seas, combating terrorism and promoting inclusive economic growth. India, Japan and ROK depend heavily on the Sea Lanes of Communications (SLOCs) for their energy security. These are also the mainstay for trade and connectivity amongst our countries and other countries in the region. India has a valued geostrategic location straddling the SLOCs. The Indian Ocean Rim is characterized by large Exclusive Economic Zones and unexplored and untapped marine resources. Similar potential exists for example in the South China Sea which today is witnessing competing claims. Our common objective is to see that the seas and oceans become regions of co-operation instead of competition particularly as our energy security and trade depends on them. The primacy of our efforts must be to maintain maritime trade, energy and economic security in the seas around us. There is indeed a compelling case for us to cooperate on maritime security. From a nuclear security perspective as well there can be significant cooperation amongst us as not only we need to deal with the conventional risks associated with nuclear power but also confront the risks of nuclear and missile proliferation in our neighbourhoods. Deepening cooperation amongst our defence and security establishments will promote our mutual security.
  • In the twenty years since 1992, when India embarked on her "Look East" policy, we have become increasingly integrated with East Asia. The proportion of our trade and investment from East and South East Asia has risen dramatically. We are not merely a Summit Partner of ASEAN, but are integral to the economic and strategic processes underway in this part of the world. We actively participate in the ASEAN Regional Forum and are founder members of the East Asia Summit. India moored in East Asia through an ever enlarging web of relations with this most dynamic part of the world seeks to build even stronger partnerships with the Japan and Korea both trilateral and in the context of the new regional architecture emerging in Asia. At present, it is not surprising that two of our more significant relationships are with our trilateral partners. The Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreements with Japan and Korea are already showing results with positive effects on trade enhancement, investments and opportunities for professionals. A case in point is the growing Indian IT presence in both countries. Even new areas of cooperation are now being explored such as creative industries with Japan.

    It may sound incredible but it is true that Indian and Japanese partners are talking about cooperation in such diverse areas as fashion, gaming and manga comics. On the other hand Korean and Japanese firms are amongst the most successful in India, particularly in electronics and automobile sectors. Your brands are household names and the watchword in quality and excellence. States of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh are experiencing a very visible impact of investments from Japan and Korea. Our endeavour has been to further facilitate this process and engage in innovative projects to ensure a better business environment for investors. The Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) which is already under implementation and the proposed Chennai-Bengaluru Industrial Corridor are good example of how India’s infrastructure needs and requirements of foreign investors can be matched to produce world class facilities for both citizens of India as well for investors. In fact when we engage with our interlocutors from other countries we very often give example of the Korean model or the Japanese model of investment related trade creation.
  • The Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreements have surely brought our economies closer. There is already movement on up-gradation of CEPA with Korea. These are healthy portents. Bilateral trade between our countries has been growing rapidly. I see greater potential in this area if our entrepreneurs and businesses collaborate and leverage the synergies. My advice to the forum would to be look closely at how cooperation between our three countries can increase trade and investment between our countries.
  • Before I conclude, I would like to wish this Dialogue all success. I am sure you will have enriching deliberations on the three major themes namely i) the evolving Asian Security Architecture; ii) non-traditional security Issues and iii) prospects and challenges for this process. I look forward to perusing the recommendations of this Dialogue particularly those with regard to how we can promote trilateral cooperation such that it benefits the foreign policy objectives of our three countries and brings are peoples even more close together. I wish you all success.

Thank you.

New Delhi
June 29, 2012

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