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'India is a land of opportunities,' PM Modi says in South Korea

File photo of PM Modi. Photograph:( ANI )

WION New Delhi, Delhi, India Feb 21, 2019, 02.07 PM (IST)

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi invited South Korean business leaders to invest in India Wednesday saying the country's "red tape" has been replaced by a "red carpet". He also launched an "India-Korea Startup Hub" which he said will provide a platfrom for South Koreans and Indians to "freely communicate" on. 

Modi is on a two-day visit of South Korea. 

Speaking at the India-Korea Business Symposium, he said "India is a land of opportunities. India is among top 10 trading partners of South Korea and six largest export destination for Korean goods". Calling "South Korea a role model" and a "natural partner", Modi said "Hyundai, Samsung are trustworthy brands in India".

Indian exports to Korea totalled up to $ 2.91 billion and imports added up $ 8.707 billion between January-July 2017, marking a growth of 26% and 30.1%. Major Korean companies such as Samsung, Hyundai Motors and LG have made major investments in India.  

"Fundamentals of our economy are sound and we will become $5 trillion economy in the future," Modi said. 

He talked about how under his government, India jumped 50 places in the World Bank's Ease of Doing Business rankings and introduced the Goods and Services Tax.

Both countries initiated negotiations to upgrade the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) to enhance bilateral trade between them. 

Modi had visited South Korea in May 2015. South Korean President Moon Jae visited India in July 2018. During his visit, he and Modi inaugurated Samsung's new manufacturing facility in Noida — the company's largest manufacturing plant anywhere in the world. 

On Wednesday, Modi also unveiled a bust of Mahatma Gandhi at the Seoul campus of Yonsei University and in the evening he will interact with the Indian community in the country. 

About 11,000 Indian nationals live in South Korea with about 1,000 more pursuing postgraduate and PhD programmes in the country. 

He will also gift a sapling of  the bodhi tree to the people of Kimhae which has a historic connect with India since Princess Suriratna of Ayodhya had travelled there in 48 CE to marry Korean King Suro. Princess Suriratna is known as Heo Hwang-ok in South Korea.  

South Korean First Lady Kim Jung-Sook visited Ayodhya in November 2018 to participate in the ground-breaking ceremony of the Queen Suriratna Memorial in the city. 

On Friday, Modi will meet with South Korean President Moon at the Blue House, the official residence of the South Korean president. (After President Moon's election victory in 2017, PM Modi was the fourth international leader to congratulate him.) 

On Friday, Modi will be honoured with the Seoul Peace Prize. 

The Seoul Peace Prize Cultural Foundation had in October 2018 announced its decision to award Modi the prize in recognition of his dedication to international cooperation, global growth and human development. Previous recipients of the award include German Chancellor Angela Merkel and United Nation chiefs Ban ki Moon and Kofi Annan. 

Modi's visit to South Korea comes just before North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's meeting with US President Donald Trump. The two will meet for the second US-North Korea summit in Vietnam over February 27 and 28. They two had met last year in Singapore.