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After Posco fiasco, South Korea eyes fresh investment imprint in Odisha

A clutch of Korean investors are keen on redrawing their investment contours on Odisha's soil

Jayajit Dash  |  Bhubaneswar 

Naveen Patnaik vexed over slow pace of Khurda-Bolangir rail link
Naveen Patnaik

South Korea's biggest investment bet in Odisha- the $12 billion greenfield steel project - also billed as the country's largest FDI failed to take off. But years later, a clutch of Korean investors are keen on redrawing their investment contours on Odisha's soil.

"had received one of the biggest foreign investment proposals from .. Now, we hope to make a fresh start in Odisha," said Shin Bong-kil, Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to India.

Posco's 12 million tonne mega steel plant proposed on Odisha's coast near Paradip never quite took off on the ground after initial euphoria. The Korean company faced stiff resistance in acquiring land, primarily from betel leaf growers. Finally, when the government took possession of 2700 acres of land and actually transferred 1700 acres to India, the latter backed out and offered to cede the land parcel.

However, a delegation, led by the envoy, has revived possibilities of Korean investment, burying the ghost of Posco failure.

The Korean delegation included officials from top corporations like Samsung Electronics, Samsung India, LG Electronics, Hyundai Motors and Kia Motors as well as representatives from Korea International Trade Association, Korea Trade Insurance Corporation, Korea Plus and Korea Trade Investment Promotion Agency.

“We had presentation from the government. It was very interesting. It is for the first time that a state government has translated its contents in the Korean language. I'm very much impressed with the facilities in Odisha”, the Korean ambassador said.

When asked if had the potential to attract investments in auto manufacturing, Shin said, “At the moment, Andhra Pradesh offers the best environment, best incentives actually. Odisha has become a very (investor) friendly state of late. But it will take time for investments to happen.”

He said that Korean auto major Kia Motors had set up a manufacturing plant in Anantapur district in Andhra Pradesh. Spread over 536 acres, the facility has been established at a cost of over $1 billion.

The delegation visited industrial estates like Infovalley-II, Khurda industrial estate and also the parcel of land identified to be developed as 'Korean industry cluster'.

“We have envisioned our industrial growth in six focus sectors and we are striving to facilitate the growth by providing a conducive environment for industries. Korea and Odisha have many opportunities to collaborate in these focused sectors and further strengthen trade, investment and cultural relations”, chief minister Naveen Patnaik said after talks with the Korean delegation.

First Published: Wed, September 25 2019. 13:29 IST
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