Have faith, keen to speed up POSCO project:PM

Seoul: India today assured South Korea that it is keen to move forward the delayed Rs 52,000 crore POSCO project in Odisha with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh asking top Korean CEOs to "have faith" in the country.

"I recognise that sometimes 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," Singh said while addressing CEOs of South Korean industry here.

Korean giant POSCO had planned to set up an integrated steel mill at Jagatsinghpur district in Odisha at an investment of Rs 52,000 crore but the project has been hanging fire for over six years due to hurdles in land acquisition and regulatory clearances.

Stressing that "India is a stable and profitable long term investment opportunity", he said: "We will take pro- active steps to address investor grievances and improve the business climate in the country…I urge Korean industry to have faith in India."

Before his departure for South Korea, the Prime Minister`s Office had reviewed progress of the POSCO project with the Odisha government. Citing examples of LG, Samsung and Hyundai that recognised strengths and competitive advantages of the Indian economy, Singh said Korean companies were among the early investors to look at India as an investment destination.

"Investment from Korea is a priority for India…Many States of our Union have been actively encouraging foreign investment and we will support these efforts," Singh said.

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.

Besides KEPCO, CEOs of Samsung Electronics, Tata Daewoo, Ssangyong Motors, Hyundai Motors and Doosan Heavy Industries were present at the meeting.

The Prime Minister said after the implementation of bilateral Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) in January 2010, the mutual trade has surged by about 65 per cent to USD 20.6 billion in 2011. However, it is still below its huge untapped potential, he said.

"Therefore, President Lee (Myung-bak) and I decided yesterday 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," Singh said.