While expressing satisfaction over assurances given by India on the multi-billion dollar Posco project, South Korean President Park Geun-hye called for the reopening of the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), one of the earliest of this kind India signed with any country.

Underlining the need to negotiate CEPA “with authenticity”, Ms. Park pointed out that since its operationalisation, trade in volume terms has increased by 70 per cent but its content does not match with that of other FTAs. The South Korean President felt there was enough potential to raise the level of trade and investment and suggested liberalisation of the visa regime, a proposal that has already been accepted in-principle by New Delhi.

The dissatisfaction expressed by Ms. Park on CEPA mirrors the reservations Japan has on a similar pact signed with India. The India-Japan CEPA was signed about a year after the Korean version and Tokyo believes it is yet to pay dividends.

Ms. Park said environment clearance to the dollars 9 billions Posco project will encourage other major Korean Chaebols to invest in the country. “When the Posco project in Orissa kicks off on full scale, it would inspire other large conglomerates in Korea to channelise investible funds into India,” she noted while speaking to leading Indian industrialists from all the three chambers of commerce and industry.

Union Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma pointed out that India had put in place single window approval mechanisms and suggested South Korean investments in upcoming industrial townships and explore manufacturing opportunities.

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