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Posco to be operational in coming weeks: PM

PM says project highlights fact that economic growth and environmental protection need to be balanced well

BS Reporter  |  New Delhi 

Posco’s $12-billion steel project in Odisha will be operational within the next few weeks, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has told South Korean President Park Geun-hye, who is on a four-day visit to India.

“I am happy that the large-scale Posco steel project in Odisha is set to be operational in the coming weeks, following the revalidation of its environmental clearance. Grant of mining concession for the project is also at an advanced stage of processing,” Singh said during the delegation-level talks at the sprawling Hyderabad House here on Thursday. According to Singh, the project highlights the fact that economic growth and environmental protection need to be balanced well.

The integrated steel plant by the South Korean firm is the biggest foreign direct investment (FDI) India has ever received. The proposal had been awaiting approvals since 2005 as it got entangled in several regulatory and environment-related hurdles. The project got the final go-ahead last week. Singh welcomed Korean companies’ interest in investing in India in sectors such as electric power plants and railway construction. He added India and South Korea have concluded the revised Double Taxation Avoidance Convention and it will be implemented soon.

According to the joint statement issued after the meeting, both sides have agreed to establish the India-ROK Joint Trade and Investment Promotion Committee at Cabinet level as an expanded and restructured replacement of the current India-ROK Joint Investment Promotion Committee.

On promoting bilateral trade, the two countries will update the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, which came into effect in 2010.

The first round of talks for this will be held in Seoul during the first half of this year.

India is concerned about the heavily tilted balance of trade in favour of Korea. On Tuesday, commerce minister Anand Sharma had raised the issue of India’s widening trade deficit with his South Korean counterpart Yoon Sang-Jick. Trade deficit with South Korea increased from $5.1 billion in 2009-10 to $8.89 billion in 2012-13.

South Korean President Park Geun-hye and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh pose for photos before their meeting at Hyderabad house in New Delhi on Thursday. PTI PhotoSingh and Park also agreed to hold regular exchanges to expand cooperation in the civil nuclear energy sector.

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First Published: Fri, January 17 2014. 00:45 IST