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Park makes pitch for greater IT cooperation with India

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Published : 2014-01-17 22:27
Updated : 2014-01-17 22:27

NEW DELHI (Yonhap News) -- South Korean President Park Geun-hye held a series of meetings with information technology experts and other business leaders of India on Friday, making a strong case that the two of Asia's biggest economies can be ideal business partners.

Park has been in New Delhi for a four-day state visit aimed largely at increasing economic ties with the world's second-most populous nation. On Thursday, Park and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh agreed to revise a free trade pact between the two countries.

South Korea has called for upgrading the comprehensive economic partnership agreement, or CEPA, in an effort to open the massive market of 1.2 billion people wider to Korean firms. But India has been reluctant due mainly to concerns that its trade deficits could grow.

Park also used the summit to make India a better place to do business for Korean companies, agreeing with Singh to revise the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement at an early date and to study the possibility of setting up an industrial complex in India for Korean factories.

On Friday, Park shifted the focus to cooperation with the private sector.

She first attended a meeting with about two dozen IT experts from the two countries, where she stressed that South Korea and India are strong in hardware and software, respectively, and combining these merits would generate great synergy for both sides.

"South Korea and India have global competitive edges in hardware and software of ICT (information communication technology), respectively, but we can't be complacent, considering the rapidly changing global ICT environment and technological advancement," Park said.

"South Korea, though globally competitive in hardware, needs to be backed up by more software talent, while India, though boasting of a globally competitive software industry, is being chased by emerging economies," she said, calling for closer ICT cooperation between the two sides.

Ahead of the meeting, Park also paid a visit to an IT expo that South Korea's government organized to help small and medium-sized enterprises tap India's fast-growing IT market. About 25 Korean firms and two Indian companies put their products on display.

Park later attended a lunch meeting with top business leaders of the two countries.

During a keynote speech, Park said South Korea and India have great potential for economic cooperation as they have a lot of cultural and emotional similarities in that they both have a long history and suffered from colonial rule.

She put forth three points to focus on for the two countries to move their economic cooperation forward: deepening IT cooperation, promoting greater cooperation among smaller firms and upgrading the CEPA.

Later on Friday, Park met with Anand Mahindra, chairman of Indian automaker Mahindra & Mahindra, which has a controlling stake in South Korea's Ssangyong Motor, and asked for more investment in South Korea.

Mahindra said the company plans to invest about 1 trillion won ($942 million) in Ssangyong over the next four years to develop new models and technologies. The Indian automaker also plans to carry out a series of joint projects with Ssangyong, he said.

In 2011, Mahindra & Mahindra acquired a 69 percent stake in Ssangyong for 507 billion won and increased its stake to 72 percent with an additional 80 billion won investment last year.

Park praised Mahindra for acquiring the then ailing Ssangyong and turning the automaker around. She also expressed gratitude that Mahindra reinstated all of the Ssangyong workers who had been on unpaid leave.

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