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"India-South Korea Engagement Is To See How Make In India Will Strengthen Our Relations" Sitharaman spotlights the trade relations between the two countries for growing businesses and entrepreneurship.

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In June 2016, Nirmala Sitharaman, Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Commerce and Industry launched Korea Plus, a platform for promoting and facilitating South Korean investments in India even as the free trade agreement called Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement was reviewed between India and South Korea. Sitharaman spotlights the trade relations between the two countries for growing businesses and entrepreneurship.

How do you see the relations between India and South Korea to drive business growth?

As the Prime Minister of India had said that the relationship between India and South Korea is indispensable because of the aspirational classes of its people that is pushing forward for a very productive engagement. The driving of this engagement is for us to see how best the Make in India program is going to serve in strengthening this relationship. India's strength is driven essentially by its domestic market. Our domestic demand, domestic capability to produce and the domestic capacity to be a manufacturing hub are very well captured by the South Korean ambassador. India's growth is not just been talked about by us but world rating agencies as well like IMF, Asian Development Bank, and Crisil.

Any challenge for Indian entrepreneurs in setting up businesses in South Korea that you see?

I am not being choosy about it. There is great potential between the two countries and I would like to underline that.

How much has been the bilateral trade between the two countries?

The bilateral trade between the two countries increased from around $1.58 billion in 1999-00 to $16.59 billion in 2015-16 and peaked at $18.13 billion in 2014-15. Investments both ways are on the upswing. As per our records the total foreign direct investment equity inflows from South Korea in India during 2000-2016 were $1.79 billion while Indian FDI is also inching close to $3 billion.

How do you see both the countries complementing each others' growth?

South Korea is a capital abundant and technologicallyrich country which complements with India's
large domestic market, rich spectrum of relatively low cost English speaking human capital and diversified industrial base. South Korea has an expensive labour while Indian labour is affordable,very talented and skilled and so they may want to invest here. Similarly the raw materials that we have are of value for the South Korean market too. Our government is taking multiple steps about
process improvement to create conducive business environment. The eBiz project integrates and brings
in single window platform for web enabled delivery of government-to-business services.

Would exports go down further from $22.17 billion in May 2016?

Though the depressing demand situation globally has a bearing on our exports but it has bottomed out and we can only see a slow pick up happening. It has now come down to 0.79 percent, which is still a situation where we have to do a lot more in the form of interestsubvention or any kind of incentives for exports. We have been looking at (offering support) sectorally, helping out many labour intensive
sectors of holding out. It is too early but I can see that the fall is getting arrested and the pickup is slowly
showing up.

Speaking at an event organized by FICCI and KOTRA.

This article first appeared in the Indian edition of Entrepreneur magazine (July 2016 Issue).

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