India is currently finalizing a $500 million contract with South Korean arms manufacturer Kangnam for eight minesweeper vessels. In an email interview, Rajaram Panda, an expert on East Asia and former senior fellow at the Institute of Defense Studies and Analyses in New Delhi, discussed ties between India and South Korea.
WPR: What is the current state of trade and defense ties between India and South Korea, and how have they evolved over the past several years?
Rajaram Panda: India-South Korea relations have been developing based on three important pillars. First, the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, signed in 2009 and in effect as of Jan. 1, 2010, jumpstarted the dormant economic ties between the two countries. Second, security ties, including the supply of defense equipment and joint research and development programs, have been strengthened. Third, cooperation on energy security has deepened, culminating in the signing of a civil nuclear pact in July 2011 during Indian President Pratibha Patil’s visit to South Korea.