“We are committed to increasing energy efficiency and the share of renewables, including solar and nuclear power, in our energy mix,” Dr. Singh told a group of top Korean CEOs here.
Among the CEOs present was Kim Joong-Kyum of the Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO) which has interests in nuclear power that meets 45 per cent of Korea’s electricity requirements.
“There will be large business opportunities and I am aware of Korean capabilities in environmentally friendly technologies,” the Prime Minister said at a meeting organised by Korean industry chambers.
South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, during a bilateral meeting with Singh on Sunday, had requested that his country be allocated a site in India to build nuclear reactors.
Apparently sensing the concerns of the Korean businessmen with regard to the much-delayed $12 billion Posco steel project in Odisha, the Prime Minister told the CEOs that “our processes can be slow but there are effective mechanisms for resolution of problems and differences and a strong rule of law.”
“The government is keen to move forward with the Posco project and there is some progress in this regard. I believe that India is a stable and profitable long-term investment opportunity,” he said.
Korea, India’s priority
Besides KEPCO, CEOs of Samsung Electronics, Tata Daewoo, Ssangyong Motors, Hyundai Motors and Doosan Heavy Industries were present at the meeting.
“Investment from Korea is a priority for India. We will take pro—active steps to address investor grievances and improve the business climate in the country,” Dr. Singh said.
He said many states have been actively encouraging foreign investment and the Union Government will support these efforts.
“I urge Korean industry to have faith in India,” Dr. Singh said.
He said India is also one of the fastest growing major economies of the world.
“Despite the adverse international environment, we have managed to maintain a growth rate of 7 per cent per annum in the last few years. I am confident that the strong fundamentals of our economy will help us return to a sustained growth path of about 8-10 per cent per annum in the coming years,” he said.
Middle class growing
Dr. Singh said over the past few years the government has invested heavily in education, health and agriculture to give a new deal to rural India.
“Our rural markets are now booming and the middle class is growing rapidly,” he said.
Dr. Singh said India has been undertaking a huge expansion in higher education and skill development, infrastructure of ports, airports, railways, energy and roads.
“India is poised to continue to be a frontline player in the global knowledge economy,” he said.
Unveiling ambitious plans for the development of physical infrastructure, Dr. Singh said India was planning to secure investment of almost USD one trillion in the next five years in new projects in highways, power plants, mass transport systems, ports and airports.
“This will be achieved through both public and private investment and Public-Private Partnerships,” he said.
He noted that after the implementation of the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) in 2010, the bilateral trade has surged by roughly 65 per cent in two years and reached a turnover of USD 20.6 billion in 2011.
“However, it is still below its huge untapped potential,” Dr. Singh said, adding the he and President Lee had decided to revise the bilateral trade target to USD 40 billion by 2015.
“This is a challenge as well as an opportunity that we must both seize together. I look forward to hearing your views,” Dr. Singh said.