UPDATE : 2019.4.22 MON 17:30
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‘Bilateral trade up 30%, Korean investment picks up, firms take strong interest in India’Interview with Amb. Vikram Doraiswami of India in Seoul

By Editor Kim Jung-mi, Reporter Kim Sua

Ambassador Vikram Doraiswami of India in Seoul said, “Following the reforms initiated by our Government since 2014, and more particularly after the visit of Prime Minister Modi to Korea in May 2015, there has been a perceptible uptick in Korean interest in India.”
At a recent interview with The Korea Post media, publisher of 3 English and 2 Korean media news media outlets for the past 33 years, Ambassador Doraiswami stated:

Ambassador Vikram Doraiswami of India in Seoul

“There is strong empirical evidence to show that we have turned a corner in perceptional terms in Korea: trade is up for the first time in nearly eight years, by 30%; investment flows from Korea into India have picked up, with as much as US$ 4.5 billion in contracted FDI in the past couple of years, and so on. There is also anecdotal evidence, as is visible in the number of Korean business queries, requests for assistance, visits by business houses to India. Details of the interview follow:

Question: Korea Plus, housed within Invest India, is a unique G2G initiative to facilitate Korean investments into India, with the participation of both governments, KOTRA and Invest India. How do you view Korea Plus’s contribution so far in enhancing FDI into India and how do you see the road ahead for the initiative?
Korea Plus has been a game-changer for our effort to promote India as an essential part of the international strategy of any Korean business house—from conglomerates to SMEs. Until the establishment of Korea Plus, we faced great difficulty in managing even the basics of long-distance facilitation for business visitors after they left our doorstep. Today, with Korea Plus, we have the confidence that our Korean business guests will be given the best possible support to persuade them that India is indeed an inevitable destination for their business.
Looking ahead, Korea Plus would need to expand its size and develop more specialist sectoral focus, so that we can try and attract investors and JVs in clusters—in the sense of bringing entire ecosystems of production—to India by targetting in particular Korea’s outstanding and technology -rich SMEs in particular.

Q: Korean brands are leaders in Consumer electronics, consumer durables and Automobile sectors in India. Do you see investment interest beyond these sectors and what measures are being taken to convert such intent into investment?
Korea is also a strong presence in basic industries as well, which we need to tap. These include chemicals (basic and fine chemicals); technical textiles; advanced materials; new and renewable energy; defence products; shipbuilding; food processing and even in logistics including cold chain management. We have worked hard to persuade businesses in these new sectors to consider the Indian market carefully, including by sector specific promotional events, outreach using targeted Korean language versions of special incentives for these sectors, individual, business-specific outreach, and so on. These efforts have led to some useful first results including in chemicals, technical textiles, food processing and so on.

Q: India is making significant investments in infrastructure sectors such as ports and shipbuilding, smart cities and railways. There is ongoing cooperation between the countries in these fields such as rolling stock for Delhi metro. How do Korean investors view these emerging or recently opened up sectors in India?
Korean businesses are particularly keen on opportunities in the infrastructure sector. Many majors including Doosan (power, construction), Hyundai Rotem (metro and rail systems); Samsung E&C; Hyundai E&C, etc. are all present in the Indian market and are keen to win large slices of contracts. However, we need to step up the processing speed for our projects, including the payment process. The main concern is not that E&C service providers won’t get paid, but the duration of settlement can sometimes be a worry for many project services companies.

Q: Recent India-Korea Business Summit brought together several Korean enterprises including existing large businesses in the Indian market and numerous SMEs. How do you envision the role of such summits and other events especially toward promotion of Korean SME investments into India?
The I-K Business Summit has been a flagship event as it is the only forum at which we have been able to interest the very topmost leadership of Korea’s largest companies to come to India and explore business opportunities. Their interest in exploring India has the best possible effect on SMEs, who are then willing to consider doing business in India based on the presence of the conglomerates with which they are affiliated. It also helps de-mystify the Indian market for Korean businesses. Finally, it also makes our leadership—corporate and national—accessible to more Korean businesses than would otherwise be possible in any normal circumstance.

Q: To enhance future investment inflows from Korea, what should be India’s top 3 priorities and what role do you believe Invest India can play?
Our top priorities should be to be : a) Business and sector-specific; (b) More able to provide clarity regarding quality of incentives and business opportunities—including linkages with reliable local business partners; (c) Technology-specific: We need to focus on which technologies will have the most important event in driving growth and eradicating poverty.

Kim Sua  edt@koreapost.com

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