Ambassador Shin Bong-Kil told reporters after the meeting that South Korea and Odisha are making “a fresh start, having learnt their respective lessons from the Posco experience.”
In 2017, after a wait of more than a decade, state-backed Posco had abandoned its plan to set up a greenfield steel plant in the state with an investment of $12 billion, troubled with local protests over land acquisition, environmental issues, and legal wrangles in getting a mining lease.
“Posco faced a lot of frustration in failing to set up a plant here. Posco is not just a steel or heavy industries company, but a technology company. They wanted to set up the most advanced technology–oriented steel plant. For whatever reasons it did not materialise,” said the ambassador.
On the current downturn, he said that while car sales have slowed, it is a short-term phase which technology-driven Korean companies will survive. “We believe the sale of cars will go up. I don’t think it’s a long-term downturn. India is a very robust market and you have big companies like Tata and Mahindra, which has a unit in South Korea …Hyundai is the second biggest automaker here and now Kia Motors has set up a plant in Andhra Pradesh with an annual capacity of 300,000 units.”
Ambassador Shin said Kia’s Seltos is selling very well in India with a booking of 50,000 units, which is a historic (booking) number for Kia. “Korean companies will do well because of the investment they make in technology, old technology cannot survive this type of world market,” he said.
South Korean companies have almost no presence in Odisha. Kia Motors, a sister concern of Hyundai, chose to set up plants in Andhra Pradesh, which offered good investment environment and incentives, said ambassador Shin. Odisha, with its high economic growth rate, also looks promising to investors, he added.
At the meeting, Odisha’s officials made a presentation that was translated in Korean. In a statement, Patnaik said that under ‘Vision 2030’ his government would ensure that half the primary metal produced in the state is processed further within the state. “Republic of Korea and Odisha have many possibilities to collaborate across the identified focus sectors of our state– electronics manufacturing, chemicals and petrochemicals, textiles, tourism, metal an food processing,” said Patnaik.
Under the Korea Caravan, a South Korean outreach programme, the Korea Taekwondo Association also performed at a city auditorium.