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It is a great pleasure for me to meet with you this morning. I would like to thank the leading Korean chambers of commerce and industry for organizing this interaction during my official visit to this beautiful country.
We in India admire the Korean people for the great economic and social progress they have registered. Despite the downturn in the global economy, Korea has sustained one of the highest growth rates among the OECD countries. These achievements are due to the determination, solid hard work and spirit of enterprise of the Korean people.
India too is one of the fastest growing major economies of the world. Despite the adverse international environment, we have managed to maintain a growth rate of 7% per annum in the last few years. I am confident that the strong fundamentals of our economy will help us return to a sustained growth path of about 8-10% per annum in the coming years.
Firstly, our domestic savings rate is about 33 – 35% of our GDP and growing.
Secondly, India has a very young population and over half of the working population is in its twenties.
Thirdly, over the past few years we have invested heavily in education, health and agriculture to give a new deal to rural India. Our rural markets are now booming and the middle class is growing rapidly.
Fourthly, we have been undertaking a huge expansion in our higher education and skill development infrastructure of ports, airports, railways, energy and roads. India is poised to continue to be a frontline player in the global knowledge economy.
Fifthly, we have very ambitious plans for the development of our physical infrastructure. We are planning to secure investment of almost US Dollar one trillion in the next 5 years in new projects in highways, power plants, mass transport systems, ports and airports. This will be achieved through both public and private investment and Public-Private Partnerships.
Sixthly, we are determined to pursue a strategy of green growth. We are committed to increasing energy efficiency and the share of renewables, including solar and nuclear power, in our energy mix. There will be large business opportunities and I am aware of Korean capabilities in environmentally friendly technologies.
Korean companies have always recognized these strengths and competitive advantages of the Indian economy. They were among the early investors to look at India as a strategic investment destination. Korean giants like LG and Samsung are household names in India. Hyundai has a 25% market share in India's domestic passenger car industry.
I recognize 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. I believe that India is a stable and profitable long term investment opportunity.
Investment from Korea is a priority for India. We will take pro-active steps to address investor grievances and improve the business climate in the country. Many States of our Union have been actively encouraging foreign investment and we will support these efforts. I urge Korean industry to have faith in India.
After the implementation of our bilateral Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) on 1 January 2010, our bilateral trade has surged by roughly 65% in two years and reached a turnover of 20.6 billion US Dollars in 2011. However, it is still below its huge untapped potential. Therefore, President Lee and I decided yesterday to revise the bilateral trade target to 40 billion US Dollars by 2015. This is a challenge as well as an opportunity that we must both seize together. I look forward to hearing your views.