Call to dismantle bilateral trade barriers to boost business

The Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise (MSME) sector in Tamil Nadu offers a bounty of opportunities for Korean investors, S. Sivagnanam, Director of MSME, Government of India, said on Friday.

Inaugurating the ‘Indo Korea Connect 2011' business summit, Mr. Sivagnanam said the government had identified 173 MSME clusters in various verticals across the State. The Centre was providing Rs. 37 crore financial support to 15 of these clusters, he said.

Calling for dismantling of bilateral trade barriers to further boost business and investment as envisaged by the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) between the two countries, Mr. Sivagnanam said Tamil Nadu was ideally placed as an investment destination in terms of rapid industrialisation and favourable business climate.

The State, he said, was a major recipient of FDI from Korea, with around 160 Korean companies operating from Chennai. He cited the example of auto major Hyundai which produced a million cars in 2010 for export to Asia, Africa and Europe, pumping in a fresh investment of $ 1.6 billion.

Mr. Sivagnanam identified as potential areas of collaboration sectors such as automotive, ITES, telecom, higher education, R&D, skills development, textiles and leather. Integration of MSMEs with Korean clusters would have a synergistic effect, he said.

J. S. Ham, Vice-President, Samsung Electronics, said the CEPA had opened up a new chapter in the bilateral business relationship. While mutual understanding of the business communities had grown, much more work was required to strengthen ties between the nations economically and culturally, he said.

K. Balaji, Managing Director, Kasturi and Sons, said the media landscape in India and Korea presented a contrasting picture, especially in patterns of media consumption. While there had been a shift in media consumption from print to Internet and mobile in Korea, in the Indian scenario print continued to hold the lion's share of advertising revenue, though television was expected to overtake print over the year, he said.

Gireesh Kumar Sanghi, former MP, said the Korean work ethic was characterised by a zeal for work, innovation and passion for research.

Madhubala Nahar, Director, Indo Korea Connect, said the MSME sector was pivotal to tap into the $ 50 billion opportunities expected to come into India in the wake of the CEPA. The business summit was being organised against a backdrop of low awareness about the potential of the CEPA for business communities of India and Korea, she said. R. Balakrishnan, past president of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India, Lee Jae Sang, Director, Korea Tourism Organisation and Lakhvinder Singh, president, Indo Korea Business and Policy Forum participated.