[Answered] Analyze the significance of the India-Republic of Korea (ROK) strategic partnership in the context of the Indo-Pacific. How can it contribute to India’s Indo-Pacific strategy?

Introduction: Give a brief context of bilateral relations.

Body: What is the significance & how does it contribute to India’s Indo-Pacific strategy?

Conclusion: Way forward.

In 1962, bilateral ties between India and South Korea were established. There has been an acceleration in the two nations’ economic and geopolitical connections as a result of the convergence of India’s Act East Policy and South Korea’s New Southern Policy. India’s Indo-Pacific strategy may include South Korea as a fourth pillar in addition to Japan, Australia, and Vietnam.

Significance of relations between the both nations:

  • Geopolitical: Both India & Korea are concerned about China’s assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific. This has led both countries to upgrade their bilateral relationship to a ‘special strategic partnership’.
  • Economic cooperation: India and South Korea have signed the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), 2010 which has facilitated the growth of trade relations. India and South Korea have set up a bilateral trade target of $50 billion before 2030.
  • New Indo-Pacific Strategy: The policy document lists India as its main actor in Seoul’s South Asian outreach based on better communication and upgrading the defense, diplomatic, and economic security ties.
  • Maritime security: The Indo-Pacific is crucial for both countries due to its maritime routes. Closer collaboration in maritime security, including joint naval exercises and information-sharing, can help safeguard sea lanes and maintain regional stability.

How can it contribute to India’s Indo-Pacific strategy?

  • Defense cooperation: The defense relationship is further strengthened by Korea’s willingness to partner in the Make in India program. E.g., K9 Vajra Howitzer & K2 Black Panther tanks. The two sides can also develop a 2+2 format dialogue to strengthen their relationship.
  • Nuclear cooperation: Korea could help fulfill India’s growing need for clean energy by supplying cheaper and faster nuclear reactors.
  • Like-minded ally: ROK’s location in the Indo-Pacific, close to China, while being a U.S. ally provides India with a like-minded strategic partner that could help in reordering Asian security architecture amidst the rise of China.
  • Quad Plus: Korea expressed its wishes to be a part of the regional security framework & expand Korea’s influence by providing support to Ukraine, articulation the China challenge, and a desire to play a bigger role in the Indo-Pacific.
  • Regional security: Both India & Korea could cooperate on matters of regional security by strengthening the alliance structure AUKUS (the U.S., the United Kingdom, Australia), the Quad (India, Japan, Australia, the U.S.), or CHIP 4 Alliance (the U.S., Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea).

Conclusion:

Both countries are celebrating their 50th year of diplomatic engagement & new strategic outlook of ROK along with the U.S., Japan, and Australia, is uniquely placed to help India advance its interests in the Indo-Pacific.

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