India is looking to Korea for investment in a vast range of sectors, including construction, nuclear energy and defense, according to the Indian Ambassador in Seoul on Tuesday.
Indian Ambassador Vishnu Prakash noted that after the CEPA came into effect in 2010, trade between the two countries has increased 70 percent.
And it is believed that the number will only continue to grow in the future.
“In the last year we traded $20.6 billion and we have been very encouraged by the response from both the businesses from Korea as well as India,” Prakash told The Korea Herald.
The ambassador added that because of such positive growth, Seoul and New Delhi have agreed to set a bilateral trade target of $40 billion by 2015.
And according to the ambassador, both countries are looking to “upgrade” the agreement, adding that over the past two years both countries have signed several agreements with other parties.
India penned agreements with Japan and Malaysia, and is currently working toward agreements with the European Union and Indonesia.
Korea has signed free trade agreements with both the US and the EU.
It is because of these developments that the ambassador said, “Both sides have gained more experience.”
Considering that India’s middle class numbers between 250 million and 300 million, according to Prakash, the world’s second-largest population should be attractive to Korean investors.
“We are looking at exponential growth over the years and decades, which means there will be a huge growth in demand,” said Prakash, adding that the middle class has good buying power.
And already Korean products are no strangers to the Indian population, shining with positive association.
“Already 52 percent of the home appliance market share is with Korean companies,” said the ambassador, adding that they dominate the realm of refrigerators, air conditioners and washing machines among other products.
According to Prakash, Korean products are not only known for their quality and competitive pricing, but also their after-sales service.
But where Korea can really make its mark is the growing infrastructure projects that the Indian government is undertaking. Largely plagued by a lack of infrastructure for its more than 1.2 billion people, the government is now looking to address the challenge. By 2017, the world’s fourth-largest country plans to invest $1 trillion in infrastructure including airports, highways, metro stations and power plants.
India has already hinted at its interest in the involvement of Korean companies.
Prakash noted that during a meeting with Korean President Lee Myung-bak, India’s prime minister Manmohan Singh acknowledged the strength of Korea’s construction industries.
“We welcome the involvement of Korean companies because that is one new area that is opening up,” said Prakash.
According to the ambassador, Chinese companies have already secured numerous projects totalling $70 billion, adding that Korean companies are just as desirable as Chinese ones.
Energy supply is another area where Korea may have a chance to make an impact.
India is looking to quadruple its nuclear energy output from just two percent of the total energy to 10 percent by 2030.
“We are planning to scale it up from 5,000 megawatts to 20,000 megawatts by 2020 and 60,000 megawatts by 2030,” Prakash said.
Korea secured a landmark $20 billion deal with the United Arab Emirates in 2009, and is believed to be in talks with Turkey, Finland, Vietnam and Saudi Arabia on nuclear plant construction.
The Indian ambassador applauded Korea’s civil nuclear reactor technology, pinpointing Korea’s safety and security records.
In July 2011, President Pratibha Patil and President Lee Myung-bak penned a civil nuclear cooperation agreement, which provides legal ground for South Korean construction of power plants in India.
The ambassador said that his prime minister mentioned to Lee that India was interested in further cooperation with Korea on civil nuclear energy.
India and Korea have also established a strategic partnership in January 2010 and have since continued to forge defense cooperation, including the establishment of a military attach here as discussed in March.
Korea has been looking to bolster its defense exports to India, including a failed bid to provide 75 KT-1 trainer jets this year. Just last month, India finalised a $500 million deal for eight minesweeper ships from Korean arms manufacturer Kangnam. -By Robert Lee