Minister of Trade, Industry and Energy of the Republic of Korea;
Minister for Commerce & Industry, Government of India;
President and CEO of the Chosun-ilbo Group;
Business Leaders of Korea and India;
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am very happy to be here with you. Such a large gathering of Korean companies in India is actually a global story. I take this opportunity to welcome all of you to India. The relationship between India and Korea dates back centuries. It is believed that an Indian Princess travelled to Korea and became a queen in Korea. We are also bound by our Buddhist traditions. Our Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore composed a poem – ‘Lamp of the East’ – in 1929 about Korea’s glorious past and its bright future. Bollywood films are also very popular in Korea. And at the Pro-Kabaddi league in India a few months ago, some of the loudest cheers, were reserved for a Korean Kabaddi player. It is also a good co-incidence that India and South Korea both celebrate their Independence Day on the 15th of August. From Princess to poetry and from Buddha to Bollywood; we have so much in common.
As I have mentioned earlier, I have always been fascinated by Korea. I visited Korea when I was Chief Minister of Gujarat. I used to wonder how a country of the size of Gujarat can make such economic progress. I admire the spirit of enterprise of the Korean people. I admire the way in which they have created and sustained their global brands. From IT and Electronics to Automobile and Steel, Korea has given exemplary products to the world. Korean companies are appreciated for their innovation, and strong manufacturing capability.
It is heartening to note that our bilateral trade crossed 20 billion dollars last year, for the first time in six years. My visit in 2015 led to a positive focus on India. Your open market policies have found resonance with India’s economic liberalization and ‘Look East Policy’. Over 500 Korean companies are operating in India too. In fact, many of your products are house-hold names in India. However, South Korea ranks only 16th in FDI Equity inflows to India. India offers a lot of potential for the Korean Investors with its huge market and enabling policy environment.
Since many of you are already present in India, you already know the ground realities. Also, through your interaction with Indian CEOs, you must have already discovered the direction in which India is going. However, let me take a few more minutes. I would like to use this occasion to personally invite to India those who are not yet present here. If you see around the globe, there are very few countries where you have three important factors of economy together.
They are: Democracy, Demography and Demand. In India, we have all the three together.
By Democracy, I mean the system based on liberal values which ensures free and fair play towards one and all;
By Demography, I mean a vast and talented pool of young and energetic workforce;
By Demand, I mean a big and growing market for goods and services.
A rising middle class is creating further growth in the domestic market. We have worked towards creating a stable business environment, ensuring the rule of law, and removing arbitrariness in decision making. We seek positivity in day to day transactions. We are widening the areas of trust; rather than digging into doubts. This represents a complete change of the Government’s mindset. A shift from issuing authority to business partner to achieve ‘Minimum Government, Maximum Governance’. And when this happens, simplification of rules and procedures starts automatically.
After all, this is what Ease of doing business demands through such measures, we are now working towards ‘Ease of Living”. We are on a de-regulation and de-licensing drive.
Validity period of industrial licenses has been increased from three years to fifteen years and more;
The Industrial licensing regime for defence production has been liberalized greatly;
Nearly 65 percent to 70 percent of the items previously under licensing can now be produced without a license;
We have said that factory inspections will only be need-based and only on authorization of the higher authority;
In FDI, we are one of the most open countries now.
Most of the sectors of our economy are open for FDI. More than 90 percent approvals have been put on automatic route;
There is practically no requirement of Government approval for investments in manufacturing sector except for Defence sector;
Incorporating a company along with allotment of statutory numbers is now just a one day affair;
We have carried out thousands of reforms on the business, investment, governance and cross border trading front. Some of them like GST are historic.
Many of you might already be experiencing the ease in operations due to GST;
We have entirely abolished more than1400 old laws and Acts which were only complicating governance;
Such measures have propelled our economy into a high growth trajectory.
FDI inflows have grown the most in the last three years. There is a new energy and vibrancy in the domestic industry.
A new start up eco-system has been un-veiled;
With unique ID and mobile phone penetration, we are fast moving towards becoming a Digital Economy;
Our, strategy is to leverage the strength of hundreds of millions of Indians who have come online in recent years;
Thus, a New India is emerging which will be modern and competitive and yet caring and compassionate;
On the global platform,
India has climbed 42 places in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index in the last three years;
We moved up 19 places on the Logistics Performance Index of 2016 of World Bank;
We have improved 31 places in last two years in the Global Competitiveness Index of the World Economic Forum;
We have also moved up twenty one places on the Global Innovation Index of WIPO in two years;
We are among the top 10 FDI destinations listed by UNCTAD;
Ours is a globally cost competitive manufacturing eco-system;
We have a vast pool of skilled professionals with knowledge and energy;
Now, we have a world class engineering education base and strong R&D facilities;
In the last two years, we have moved towards a low tax regime on corporate side where we have lowered the tax from 30 percent to 25 percent for new investments and smaller ventures.
We are working with the mission of Transforming India from:
An old civilisation into a modern society;
An informal economy into a formal economy;
You can imagine the range and span of our work. We are already the third-largest economy by purchasing power. Very soon, we will become the world’s fifth-largest economy by nominal GDP. We are also the fastest growing major economy of the world today. We are also a country with the one of the largest Start up eco-systems.
Our vision is to create a globally competitive industry and services base equipped with skill, speed and scale. Therefore, we are continuously working to improve our investment climate. We particularly want to promote manufacturing in a big way to create jobs for our youth. For this purpose, we have launched a campaign called “Make in India”. This includes bringing our industrial infrastructure, policies and practices to best global standards and to convert India into a global manufacturing hub. This initiative has been well supplemented by programmes like ‘Digital India’ and ‘Skill India’. Cleaner and greener development and Zero defect Zero effect manufacturing is another commitment.
We have committed to the world and are moving aggressively for adoption of better environmental technologies. I have said earlier that there is huge potential for cooperation between India’s software and Korea’s IT industry. Your car making and our designing capabilities can be put together. Though we have become the third biggest producer of steel, we need to add lot of value in it. Your steel-making capacity and our resources of iron ore can be put together for better products.
Similarly, your ship-building capacity and our agenda of port led development can become a driver of our partnership. Housing, smart cities, railway stations, water, transportation, railways, sea ports, energy including renewables, IT infrastructure and services, electronics, are all very promising sectors in my country. India and Korea are major economies in the region. Our partnership has immense potential to promote regional growth, development, stability and prosperity in Asia. India is turning to the East for bigger economic engagement. Similarly, South Korea is trying to diversify its overseas markets.
Both stand to gain by deepening their partnership. India a huge and emerging market. It can also be a bridge for Korean business to penetrate the Middle East and African markets. You may recollect that the need for a hand-holding agency was felt during my visit to Korea. It was announced that a dedicated team would be established for Korean Investments in India. Accordingly, “Korea Plus” was formed in June 2016. The mandate of Korea Plus is to promote, facilitate and retain Korean investments in India. It is envisaged as the first reference point for Korean Investors in India. Korea Plus has facilitated more than 100 Korean Investors in a short span of about two years. It acts as a partner throughout the investment cycle of Korean companies. This shows our commitment towards welcoming Korean people and companies; ideas and investments.
I would like to conclude by saying that India is now ready for business. India is now a free destination for enterprise. You will not find such a free and growing market anywhere in the world. I further assure you that whatever is required to promote and protect your investments will be done here. Because we value your involvement and contribution in our economy. At a personal level too, I assure you of my full support whenever required.