India-Republic of Korea relations have made great strides in recent years and has become multifaceted, spurred by a significant convergence of interests, mutual goodwill and high-level exchanges. The ever-expanding canvas of their economic partnership has lead to the strengthening of cooperation in sectors such as energy, electronics and shipbuilding.
The year 2018 marked 45 years of successful diplomatic ties between India and the Republic of Korea. The bilateral consular relations established between the two nations in 1962, were upgraded with Ambassador appointment in 1973.
With the visit of the Prime Minister of India to Korea in 2015, the bilateral relations were upgraded to a ‘Special Strategic Partnership’. Korean President Moon Jae-In’s ‘New Southern Policy’ compliments India’s ‘Act East Policy’ as both seek to strengthen economic relations between the two nations.
In 2019, Prime Minister of India inaugurated the ‘India-Korea Startup Hub’ to increase cooperation in fields of research, innovation and entrepreneurship. Six MoU's were also signed between the two nations to strengthen collaboration between their law enforcement agencies and to promote bilateral cooperation in road and transport infrastructure development.
The Republic of Korea is the 14th largest FDI investor in India, investing $3.84 bn during April 2000 - June 2019. Metallurgy, automobile, electronics, prime movers, machine tools, hospital and diagnostic centers are the top sectors which attracted the investment.
Bilateral Trade touched $14,324 mn during January - September 2019. Imports from Korea were valued at $11.82 bn and exports at $4.11 bn during January - September 2019. Electronic components, plastic raw materials, and iron and steel products are key areas for imports while non-ferrous metals, petroleum and related products and textiles form the bulk of exports.
Republic of Korea and India signed the CEPA Free Trade Agreement in 2009, which became operational from 1 January 2010. In addition, the Indian Chamber of Commerce in Korea was established in 2010 to support Korean companies interested in doing business in India.
India has extended a visa-on-arrival facility for Korean tourists from 2014 to boost travel between the two countries. Bilateral Civil Aviation Agreement of 1994 was revised in 2015 to increase weekly flights between two nations to 19.
Sarang, the annual festival of India in Korea was initiated in 2015 to showcase diverse Indian culture and art forms in various parts of the Republic of Korea.
The Indian Council for Cultural Relations in Seoul and Busan promotes Indian culture in the country offering classes in yoga, dance, Hindi language, music and cooking. The Korean Cultural Centre plays a major role in introducing Korean culture in India by offering Korean language classes and hosting festivals, exhibitions and competitions.
Suwon, South Korea-based TagHive has launched its flagship product Class Saathi in two districts of Madhya Pradesh. Founded in 2017 by IIT and Harvard alumni, Pankaj Agarwal, the startup was a part of Samsung’s C-lab incubator programme. TagHive aims to bring affordable digital learning to primary schools in rural India.
Edelweiss Alternative Asset Advisors (EAAA) has partnered with South Korea’s Meritz Financial Group to launch the first fund of its financing platform, targeted at $425 mn. The platform will house funds that will buy out existing residential real estate loans and provide requisite completion financing to good quality, commercially viable projects, Edelweiss said.
Supermarket Groceries Supplies owned and operated online grocery portal BigBasket has raised $150 mn funding from Seoul based Mirae Asset - Naver Asia Growth Fund, CDC Group and Alibaba Group. These funds will be used to expand its presence in existing markets, scaling up supply chain, and developing new reseller channels.
Banking services India - based startup Cashfree has closed funding round at $ 5.5 mn led by Smilegate Investments, affiliated to Korean games firm Smilegate and US accelerator program Y Combinator. Cashfree will use these funds to double its banking services and introduce an integrations solution, as well as expand its presence.
South Korean investment firm Redwood Global Healthcare Fund acquired shares of online pharmacy 1mg in a funding round. Redwood led the round with investments worth $ 7.2 mn of the total $ 10 mn raised.
Korean automobile major Hyundai and its subsidiary Kia have together invested $ 300 mn in ride-hailing company Ola to jointly develop electric vehicles ecosystem and fleet services for global markets. Under the partnership, the three companies will aim to develop mobility solutions and EV charging infrastructure customised for Indian market.
The auto giant Kia Motors has set up their first car manufacturing plant in India in Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh with an investment of $ 1.1 bn. The factory is expected to roll out its first car in the second half of 2019 and it will have an annual capacity of 300,000 units.
Hyundai Motors plans to invest about $ 980 mn in a new vehicle production capacity in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Scheduled to become operational by 2021, the investment is expected to create 1,500 direct jobs initially
Bengaluru-based co-living startup Zolostays has raised $ 30 mn in Series B funding led by Mirae Asset, a leading independent financial services group from the Republic of Korea, IDFC Alternatives and Nexus Venture Partners.
Chandigarh-based LetsShave has raised fresh funding from leading Korean razor blades manufacturer Dorco against a 10% stake. The company plans to expand its online business and product portfolio.
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