Seeking to take the India-South Korea trade ties to a new level, both countries on Thursday agreed to set a $30 billion bilateral trade turnover target to be achieved by 2014.

Taking to reporters at a function organised here by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), both Union Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma and the visiting South Korean Trade Minister, Kim Jong-Hoon, said that huge business opportunities were available for Indian and Korean companies in each other's region.

Mr. Jong-Hoon is here for the first review of the India-South Korea Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), implemented a year ago.

Free trade pact

After the implementation of the free trade pact, the two-way trade between the countries has grown by about 45 per cent during January-November 2010 to $15.6 billion. Both the Ministers said the bilateral trade target of $30 billion by 2014 was achievable.

Mr. Jong-Hoon said to further enhance investments in India there was a need for some more Korean bank branches here to facilitate Korean businesses in India. “We do need some more banking services which are very familiar with Korean business and that's why I would like to ask your government to give a good consideration to give some more permissions to Korean banks to open their offices here,” he said.

Mr. Sharma said that he had received two applications from South Korea, which is interested in opening bank branches in Chennai. “I have talked to our officials and we will find a way how to facilitate the approvals required for the two Korean banks which have asked for approvals to set base in Chennai at the earliest,” he added.

Mr. Jong-Hoon said that over 200 Korean companies, including Hyundai, LG and Samsung, were already present in India and many other firms like Dusan Heavy Industries and Hyundai Constructions have shown interest in the Indian infrastructure sector. He said after the implementation of CEPA, services sector had got a huge boost.

Mr. Jong Hoon also said that they were planning to open a cultural centre here, which would give a first-hand experience to Indians about the Korean culture.

“We will be having a ministerial level review of CEPA. We will look, what more we can do to further alleviate and deepen the economic engagement,” Mr. Sharma said. Both sides will try to further facilitate the movement of professionals.

He said India would like to collaborate and partner in sectors such as manufacturing, engineering, electronics, automobile, ship building, IT and education, as in these areas Korea has a greater edge.

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