Future of trade relationship will be determined by what happens to Posco: Korean minister

India will conduct a fresh review of South Korean steel giant's $12 billion investment plans in Orissa stalled for several years due to land and environmental clearance problems, Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma has said.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is personally monitoring the progress of the project, Sharma assured his South Korean counterpart Sukwoo Hong in a meeting on Monday.

"The Korean minister cautioned that the future of India-Korea trade relationship would also be determined by what happens to Posco whose investment plans in Orissa have been hanging fire since 2005," a government official told Business Line.

Hong said the country was looking at Posco as a key determinant for its future plans in India. Posco's investment proposal is the largest FDI proposal in India and the whole world, too, was keenly watching how the company was treated, the minister added.

The two ministers met at the Partnership Summit organised by CII to discuss bilateral trade ties. "We have been concerned about the delay and we will be conducting a review soon," Sharma said.

The National Green Tribunal, in March 2012, directed the Ministry of Environment and Forest to make a fresh review to the environment clearance accorded by it to the project with specific reference to the observations raised by the review committees earlier.

The Odisha government, too, has said that it can acquire the required land for Posco to start its steel plant only after all environmental clearances are in place.

Etihad team to meet Sharma on Jan 31

In an important development on the civil aviation front, a team from UAE's national airlines Etihad will be in New Delhi on January 31 to meet Sharma, the minister confirmed. While Sharma did not elaborate on the proposed areas of discussion, the meeting is important in the back-drop of the recent relaxation in foreign direct investment policy in civil aviation allowing foreign carriers to buy stake in Indian airlines.

In his meeting with Sheikha Lubna Bint Khalid Al Qasimi, Minister of Foreign Trade, UAE, Sharma focused on the new opportunities have been created by the recent policy reforms in India and invited UAE to invest in various areas, especially in the infrastructure sector.

amiti.sen@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on January 28, 2013)
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