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Transcript of Media Briefing on State Visit of President of the Republic of Korea to India (July 10, 2018)

July 11, 2018

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Namaskar, good afternoon and welcome to this special press briefing on the visit of the President of Republic of Korea to India. We just concluded the delegation level talks which was followed by CEOs roundtable. To brief you on the visit and also on the talks which were held between the Prime Minister and the President of Korea I have with me Secretary (East), a very familiar face to all of you, Smt. Preeti Saran. I also have our Ambassador to Republic of Korea, Shri Vikram Doraiswami and Jt. Secretary (East Asia), Mr. Pranay Verma. We will start with opening remarks by Secretary (East) and then we will take some question.

Secretary (East), Smt. Preeti Saran: Thank you Raveesh and good afternoon dear friends and thank you for kindly joining us for this special briefing on President Moon Jae-in’s visit to India. As you know he arrived two days back on 8th July and he will leave tomorrow. Today was the main day of engagement.

President Moon Jae-in of Republic of Korea, this is his first state visit and he has been accompanied by the First Lady Mrs. Kim Jung-Sook and senior ministers of his cabinet which includes the Foreign Minister, the Trade Minister and the Minister for Small and Medium Enterprises and Startups. There are other senior officials and advisors also accompanying the President as well as a large business delegation.

As I mentioned President Moon arrived in New Delhi on Sunday i.e. July 8. He was received by our Minister of State for External Affairs Gen. V K Singh and then straight from the airport he went and visited the Akshardham Temple. Yesterday morning our External Affairs Minister paid a courtesy call on President Moon as is customary. In the afternoon our Prime Minister joined President Moon on a visit to the Gandhi Smriti. This is the first time that our Prime Minister has accompanied any visiting dignitary to the Gandhi Smriti. After that both leaders then went together, in fact drove together and then took the Metro reached Noida at the Samsung factory.

There is a new manufacturing facility that has been established in Noida and the two leaders inaugurated that and participated in the launch of the new Samsung factory.

This is perhaps the largest mobile phone manufacturing plant for Samsung anywhere in the world and it is a fine example of Republic of Korean companies joining our flagship ‘Make in India’ program.

Today is the main engagement day and it started with the usual ceremonial welcome, a very grand, impressive forecourt ceremony at the Rashtrapati Bhawan. Rashtrapati Ji and First Lady were there as was our Prime Minister. Our Prime Minister then hosted President Moon for a restricted level talks followed by delegation level talks at Hyderabad Houseand then hosted a banquet in his honor.

Before that there were statements made to the media and these were preceded by exchange of agreements. In total 11 agreements have been signed and four of them exchanged in the presence of the dignitaries and both the leaders jointly addressed the media following the exchange of agreements.

Considering the very significance of economic engagement in our relations interactions with the business community was again a very important component. Yesterday the Korea – India Business Forum held its meeting and the CEOs roundtable took place immediately after Prime Minister’s banquet lunch.

Yesterday Prime Minister and President Moon has addressed the Korea-India Business Forum and today they jointly heard the CEOs of the round table which comprises 24 CEOs, 12 from each side, and so we have just concluded that and came here for the briefing.

This evening our President will host a banquet in honor of the visiting dignitary and his delegation at Rashtrapati Bhawan and tomorrow President Moon leaves India.

Now I will come to the more substantive part, this was just the program element. The talks between our Prime Minister and President Moon were very positive, very constructive and forward looking. Both leaders noted their very deep optimism in the future of our bilateral relationship and appreciated each other’s role in peace, stability and prosperity of their region.

President Moon briefed the Prime Minister on the recent developments that have taken place in the Korean Peninsula and Prime Minister elaborated on India’s vision of the Indo-Pacific which was recently articulated by him in his Shangri-La speech in Singapore.

The broad contours of the discussions have been captured in Prime Minister’s media statement which is available on our website along with a vision document that was also adopted by the two leaders as are the details of all the agreements, I presume those are up on the website as well. Those gives you an idea about the content of the basic discussion and the thrust of our relationship.

It also reflects the shared desire to progress India-Korean relations in diverse sectors as well as our shared views on regional and international issues of common interest. The list of other agreements that were concluded during the visit has also been uploaded on our MEA website and the documents were signed covering diverse areas such as Trade Engagement as well as cooperation in railways, in advancing cooperation in Science & Technology, in Bio-technology, in Telecommunications, in Small & Medium Enterprise Sector, in Culture and People to People exchanges.

Our Prime Minister announced during his press interaction that, and you would have seen the exchange an Early Harvest Package for an Upgraded, Comprehensive Economic Agreement which is under discussions with the Korean side which is a very important achievement showcasing the commitment on both sides for liberalizing trade as an important priority particularly as there is recognition from both sides that in spite of $20 billion bilateral trade and more than $6.8 billion Korean investments in India, I think both are well below potential and that there is a lot that we can do to improve this and so therefore they remain a priority item. There are complementarities in the way we trade and invest in each other’s countries and so we see an immense potential there.

In addition an agreement in Future Strategic Group which is significant as it prepares the two countries to reap the dividends of the fourth industrial revolution through cooperation in new and cutting edge technologies such as Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence etc.

The relationship between India and Korea has witnessed a new momentum since our Prime Minister visited Korea in 2015 when we upgraded our relationship to a Special Strategic Partnership.

We see a strong partnership with Korea as a logical conclusion of our Act East Policy and this combines exceedingly well with President Moon’s New South Strategy, as he called it, in fact stressed that our Act East Policy combines very well with their New South Strategy which includes engagement with India and with other countries in the region.

Our relations have further strengthened following inauguration of President Moon’s administration in May last year. Prime Minister has met President Moon soon after his election last year at the G20 Summit in Hamburg. I mentioned you about this New Southern Strategy where RoK is expanding its outreach to countries outside their immediate region and India forms a very important part of this outreach and this is what President Moon repeatedly stressed in his interactions with our Prime Minister.

Underlining his emphasis on India President Moon sent a very special envoy to India last June soon after he was elected which was the first such envoy from their side in their bilateral relationship and thereafter of course I mentioned that they met at Hamburg.

Today’s talks covered a wide range of areas of bilateral, regional and global issues, of shared interests highlighting the synergies between the two sides for deepening of relations and have added a new dimension to our Special Strategic Partnership. I will stop here and be happy to take questions.

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Thank you Ma’am. We have uploaded the vision statement as well as the list of MoUs on our website and we will also share this statement which Secretary just read out in the group as well. Now we have time for some questions.

Question:Any discussion on expanding defense and civil nuclear cooperation? India and South Korea have already signed civil nuclear cooperation agreement.

Question: How confident is the South Korean President about the de-nuclearization of North Korea and the ongoing meetings between Mr. Trump and North Korean Leader?

Question: Could you please name some of the CEOs who took part in today’s dialogue from both sides?

Secretary (East), Smt. Preeti Saran:I will answer the first two questions and maybe request our Ambassador Vikram Doraiswami to share the names of the CEOs from both sides who participated in the round table.

As far as defense and civil nuclear cooperation agreements are concerned, yes there was specific discussion on defense cooperation in particular because the point that was made by President Moon was that while there is a very strong economic content, in spite of being well below potential, he did see that given our special strategic partnership we should work together on defense and strategic issues.

There are already some joint ventures discussions, trade and investment taking place from the Korean side in our defense industries production. Our Prime Minister pointed out that this is one of the important elements of our Make in India program and we have invited Korean companies to participate in defense production in particular as part of Make in India program.

Given the fact that India itself is a huge market and that there are complementarities of affordable skilled work force that is available in India, a huge captive market in India and technology and investment and capital coming out of Korea, where we see a perfect fit and it was definitely raised and we hope to take it forward.

On the question of de-nuclearization the Korean Peninsula, yes President did brief our Prime Minister on the current state of affairs including two summits that he held with Chairman Kim from DPRK as well as other summits that have taken place. He said he was very optimistic, that it was moving in the right direction but of course there were challenges in the whole process but overall his tone was very optimistic.

Question: ………… Inaudible …………..

Secretary (East), Smt. Preeti Saran: There was no specific discussion on that one.

Ambassador to Korea, Shri Vikram Doraiswami:
The CEO forum was headed by Rashesh Shah from our side who is the chairman of FICCI. He is also the chairman of Edelweiss group. Other major names from our side Anand Mahindra who has a major investment in Korea. Mahindra group has invested in the purchase of SsangYong Automotive. Tulsi Tanti, Anil Ambani, Rohit Relan, Siddhartha Birla, Bank of Baroda chairman Jai Kumar among the leading lights.

On the Korean side, the Korean co-chair is the chairman of the Korean Chambers of Commerce and Industry and the former chairman of the Doosan group, Park Yong-Man. It included the vice chairman of Samsung electronics Mr. Yun, it included the vice chairman of Hyundai motor group, Mr. Chung, it included the chairman of Korea Kookmin Bank, KB bank which is opening an office in Gurugram very soon, his name is also Yun.

It included the vice chairman of Hanwa defense systems which as Secretary was saying a joint venture with L&T to produce the Vajra self-propelled 155 mm artillery gun system. In Korean it is called K9 Thunder which essentially is 150 pieces have been ordered by the Indian army, so it is the largest defense deal between India and Korea worth about $870 million. So this is the larger framework of Korean and Indian CEOs who were present.

On the Inter-Korean Summit President Moon had one very interesting line, he said that there will be bumps and bruises on the road but I am confident on the outcome. So that summarizes his view on the inter-Korean dialogue.

Question: Prime Minister in his media remarks he said that of course proliferation linkages are of concern to India, that India is a stakeholder and would like to play any role possible in reducing the tensions and also increase deliberations. I was trying to understand if this is in the context of proliferation talks or it is in the context of Korean peninsula talks itself, what exactly does India have in mind when it says it will play an increased role and did specifically the proliferation linkages from Pakistan come up for discussion or is that something only Delhi sort of pushes through and it is not really something that mentioned by other players at this point in time when you talk of proliferation in this area?

Question: We see from the vision statement as well that India and South Korea are considering tripartite partnerships for Afghanistan. The question, are these at any specific level? With the Chinese, they discussed it, it was made much of and at the end of the day we asked what is going to come out of it and they said it will be capacity building as in training of capacity jointly by India and China and Afghanistan. So I want to get a sense of does this is going to be something that is substantial, involves investment or is it just that?

Question:
Bharat aur Republic of Korea ke sambandhon ko ek sanskritik aayaam deti hai Rajkumari Surya Ratna ki kahani. Main jaanana chaahunga ki kya uske mutallik koi samjhauta hua hai, uske baare mein kaun si jaankaari hai?

(The story of Princess Surya Ratna gives a cultural dimension to India-Korea relations. I would like to know if there has been any agreement regarding that?)

Secretary (East), Smt. Preeti Saran: I will answer the three question that have been raised. First is about proliferation linkages of what is of concern in the Korean peninsula and its linkages to South Asia. These linkages are well known, universally acknowledged. I don’t think one country alone is pushing for it, those are well known and acknowledged and therefore its known to all.

As far as increased role for India is concerned, it is just that India has in the past as well contributed, you would recall, in 1950s as well. India had played a very important role. India has over the years maintained diplomatic good relations with both DPRK as well as RoK and India today is seen as an important player.

So there was definitely a mention by President Moon himself that they feel that first they would like to engage with India at the same plane as they engage with some of their other important strategic partners. And in that context they foresee a positive role that India can play and we accept that. Yes, if there is anything that we could do to help in providing peace and stability in the Korean peninsula we would be very happy to do that.

As far as the tripartite discussions of cooperation are concerned, yes, there have been concrete discussions that have t aken place on capacity building programs that both India and Korea would like to undertake in Afghanistan. Certainly before they actually come into being discussions are required, so at present they are at a discussion stage but there is seriousness on both sides to ensure that we are able to do trilateral tripartite assistance programs not just in Afghanistan but we would also be happy to look at holding similar trilateral discussions or assistance programs, development programs with other partners as well.

Moving on to the Surya-Ratna kahaani jo aapne poochha, ek to iski ahmiyat aap jaante hi hain. Kal President Moon ne apni Korean community ke saath ek reception kiya tha, uske liye khaas hamare Pradhanmantri ne ek cultural component ke roop mei ek tohfa diya. ICCR ne ek dance program taiyyar kiya tha joki us reception mein perform hua tha. Uski badi saraahna hui, taareef hui aur unhone khaas dhanyawad diya hamare Pradhanmantri Ji ko ki us se un sab logon ko maloom hua jo bahut jyada nahi jaante hain. Korea mei to kaafi log jaante hain shayad hamare desh mein logon ko kam maloom hai ki ye ek Raajkumaari thi jo Ayodhya mei rahti thi aur Korea gai thi, 1400 AD ki kahani hai lekin Korea mei to kaafi log maante hain ki they are inheritors of the Princess.

Aapko maloom hai ki pichhale saal se UP Sarkar ne ek deepotsav ka ayojan kiya hai aur uske tahat UP Sarkar Korean Sarkar ko nyota bhi diya hai ki wo ek partner country ke roop mein wahan aayein. Wahan par deepotsav mei shaamil hone ke alawa ek monument wahan banaane ka irada hai jismein ki usko commemorate karenge ki jo Rajkumari Surya Ratna wahan se gain thi to uski bhi aaj charcha hui aur Rashtrapati Moon ne kahan ki wo apni taraf se ek bahut high level cultural delegation bhejenge jo ki us deepotsav mein bhi participate karega aur SuryaRatna Rajkumari ji ki monument ceremony mein bhi shaamil honge.

(Moving onto Princess SuryaRatna which you asked about, first you know its significance. Yesterday President Moon had a reception with the Korean community and for that our Prime Minister arranged a gift, as a cultural component, a dance program prepared by ICCR which was performed in that reception. It was praised very much and President Moon especially thanked our Prime Minister as it helped to inform many people about this as not many were aware of this aspect. A lot of people in Korea know about this but only few people in India were aware about it that there was a Princess of Ayodhya which went to Korea in 1400 AD and a lot of people in Korea believe that they are inheritors of Princess SuryaRatna.

You are aware that since last year UP government has started a deepotsav to commemorate Princess Surya Ratna and they have also invited Korea to participate in that deepotsav as a partner country. Other than participating in the festival there is also a proposal to make a monument there to commemorate it. President Moon has said that he will be sending a very high level cultural delegation which will not only participate in the deepotsav but it will also be present during the monument ceremony of Princess Surya Ratna. )

Question: South Korea Posco ko lekar bahut lambe samay se koshish karta raha hai, is silsile mein koi baat hui ya wo chapter ab closed hai?

(South Korea has been trying since very long regarding Posco, were there any discussions on this issue or that chapter is closed now? Question: Could you please expand upon the railway cooperation between India and Korea, what can we expect?

Question: Could you give any details on this early harvest agreement under CEPA and I am just wondering, today, I think the Korean President said that there is a target to increase trade from $20 billion to $50 billion by 2030. How we are going to do this, are we looking into investments, how do we do this?

Secretary (East), Smt. Preeti Saran: I will answer the first and the last question and certainly I will ask Vikram to share more details about what is the potential in railways.

As far as POSCO is concerned there was no specific discussion relating to the POSCO company here however all the other CEOs who were present today at the roundtable including the business forum yesterday as well as in the discussions that President Moon held, I think the atmosphere was very positive and I think there is a lot of expectation given India’s own growth rates and the kind of reforms and liberalizations that have taken place.

I think the Korean companies are extremely sanguine. The existing ones are doing exceedingly well. We have agreed that there might be some issues that require discussions whether it is more visa free movement or of persons, whether it is tourism or business community etc. Those were the only issues that they were focused upon and those are not insurmountable. I think they can be easily discussed and resolved.

In fact we looked at it very positively and said we would open up for freer movement of the business community for tourism etc. but the overall atmosphere of the response that we heard from the CEOs, in particular, from the Korean side was extremely positive and forward looking where they saw that India was an important partner both for trade and investment. And it is in that context the fact that in just the last few years, in the last three years alone, out of $6.8 billion cumulative investment that has taken place from Korea, more than $3 billion has actually come in the last three years alone. That itself is a story.

The fact that the Korean investment has added more than 1,00,000 jobs directly quite apart from the indirect creation of jobs, I think those are very important elements to note. The fact that our trade has grown at a very high percentage, it has fluctuated in between but the fact that it has maintained a very high growth rate, I think all those three speak for itself and it is in that context President Moon felt that we would be able to achieve the target of $50 billion which I am sure we should be able to.

As far as specifically your question on railways, our Ambassador in South Korea Mr. Vikram will answer that.

Ambassador to Korea, Shri Vikram Doraiswami:
Thank you. Just a couple of quick points. On railway cooperation, RDSO (Railway Design and Standards Organization) has visited Korea at the behest of the Railway Minister who visited Korea himself in 2015 and the idea was to study the Korean model for high speed railway but also for a variety of other railway technology where Korea has strengths. This includes basically variable center of gravity where the entire train can turn on a curve without being derailed easily, increased safety standards, better signaling equipment, and rolling stock. There are a number of Korean companies that are interested in this market.

Korea has a very efficient high speed railway system and at comparatively good prices. So the Koreans are keen to get into the Indian high speed railway market. So this is the first step towards that to get into partnership between RDSO and the Korean Railroad Research Institute (KRRI). So the intention is to start that part of the partnership and maybe move it down to something tangible.

On the question of investment, as Secretary (East) just said, $3.5 billion has come in past couple of years literally. In that what is interesting to note is the scale in which it has come. There is Kia Automotive which is a sister company of Hyundai Motors, it has put in over a billion dollars in Anantpur in Andhra Pradesh. It will produce 3,00,000 cars a year starting from very next year.

What this essentially means is that by the time its full capacity is installed of 3,00,000 plus 3,00,000 India will be fourth largest market for production for Korea for the Hyundai Motor group. Similarly Samsung, as Secretary said, 10 million smartphones a month will be produced. The current largest amount that Samsung has is in Vietnam which is 1 million smartphones a week which is essentially just under half of what this will be.

So we are actually looking at significant expansion of production capacity in electronics, automobiles but also in new sectors which includes technical textiles and textiles, chemicals and even food processing. Korean asset management companies are also coming here to bring in money. The privately run Mirae Asset Group has $3 billion assets under management making it the 16th largest player in just under two years. Five years ago they had practically no exposure into the Indian market, they had a small presence here. Today they say its their fastest growing business and it’s the fastest growing presence in the Indian market.

So all of that adds to the point that an Early Harvest Agreement which means an early harvest of our Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement which has three chapters namely goods, services and investment. We want to see progress in all three. The original CEPA which came into effect in 2010 had the space for us to expand the partnership including through an early harvest where we would be able to draw upon certain quick wins.

This early harvest covers 11 main commodity groups on the goods side which gives us an opportunity to step up our exports in areas of particular interest to us. Agriculture commodities primarily in marine products where we have significant market in the rest of the world but not yet in Korea and we have the standards and the quality to be able to export to the world’s most sophisticated consumers of marine products. So this should be one big opportunity. Other agriculture products like maize and derivatives thereof.

For Koreans there are other areas that they are interested in including baseoil.Where some of these things will be discussed further but broadly we see an expansion of trade that, I am hesitant to quote figures, but basically this early harvest agreement should give us the significant capacity to step up the growth rate that is already underway.

Last year, as Secretary alluded to this, something like 30 percent growth was recorded in the last one year in trade. 26 percent being our exports which considering our smaller exports goods basket is a significant achievement. On that basis I think it is reasonable to assume that in the next 12 years we should be able to double the trade.

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:
We will take the last round of questions only related the visit of President of RoK to India.

Question: Aapne railway ke sandarbh mein ye baat bataai ki high speed railway khastaur par curve karne ki facility with high speed aur rolling stock, in tamaam cheezon mein baatcheet hui hai. Main jaanana chaahunga ki darasal jo high speed railway hai Bharat aur Korea ke beech jo specific aap bataa rahe hain, usmein kis tarah ke trains ya rolling stock laane ki baat ho rahi hai, hamara jo existing infrastructure hai, usmein kya Korean technology ki trains chal sakte hain, thoda detail mein isko jara bataayein.

(With regards to railways you told that there has been discussion on high speed railway especially on technology of bending on curves and rolling stock. I would like to know about the high speed railways that is proposed between India and Korea, what kind of trains or rolling stock are being considered in that, can Korean trains run on our existing railway infrastructure, please elaborate in detail.)

Ambassador to Korea, Shri Vikram Doraiswami:
The leaders didn’t get into the specifics of this. This is has been discussed between RDSO and their counterparts. As it happens I attended that meeting in Korea so I am aware of what was discussed.

Korea already has a presence in India in rolling stock. If you look at your Metro lines most of your Metro lines have rolling stock provided by a company called Hyundai Rotem which is a Korean company, its in Delhi, its in Bangalore, its in Hyderabad, all these Metros are Hyundai Rotem products. So rolling stock is already there.

They have a partnership with Bharat Earth Movers Ltd. for quite some time. In terms of new technology this is what RDSO has to now finalize what technologies they want to adopt to the Indian market. But there is interest in these areas, as I said, safety equipment, better quality rolling stock, better quality signaling equipment all of that and of course the prospect of discussing the high speed rail. For that of course the economics will be the most important question.

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: If there are no other questions we conclude this special briefing. I thank Ma’am, Vikram and Pranay for coming to this briefing and I thank you all for joining.

(Concludes)

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