Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, who's in South Korea as part of her official visit, said today that India is looking forward to more committed bilateral relations between the two nations and more ways to further deepen the investment cooperation.

She met Choo Kyung-ho, deputy PM & minister of economy and finance, South Korea, on the sidelines of the 56th ADB Annual Meeting, in Incheon, South Korea, today. Both the leaders recognised India and South Korea share a special strategic partnership, which, she said, is also manifested in the fact that both countries are celebrating the 50th anniversary of India-South Korea diplomatic relations.

The two leaders also emphasised greater opportunities in India for investments in manufacturing, renewable energy, infrastructure, pharmaceuticals, food processing, including marine resources. She also highlighted that India raised NDCs (Nationally Determined Contributions) and enabled a policy framework for e-vehicles and green hydrogen sectors for further attracting investment in India by engaging with the Korean government.

The FM also invited Korea Investment Corporation or KIC and other investors to take forward investment in the infrastructure sector in India. Kyung-ho said the two countries should continue to broaden cooperation and engagement, and that he hoped that Korea will get the opportunity to participate in the investment avenues in India.

The FM pointed out that the recently signed EDFC loan agreement for the “ITS establishment of Nagpur Mumbai super communication expressway” project will open a gateway for other developmental projects in India. Referring to the Nagpur project, Kyung-ho said the Korean investment in the project currently stands at 215 billion won (approx. Rs 1,495.68 crore).

Appreciating India's leadership of G20 and extending Korea's cooperation and support to the G20-India Presidency, he said it'll be meaningful to continue to strengthen and broaden the economic & cultural cooperation between the two countries. Sitharaman later informed Kyung-ho about investment opportunities for value addition in the seafood sector in India, and about the newly identified projects under the EDCF Framework Agreement.

The FM, while participating in the Governors Plenary meeting on “Boosting ADB’s Lending Capacity” as part of the 56th ADB Annual Meeting, also sought the Governors’ guidance on issues like risk appetite, callable capital, charter lending limit, hybrid capital, and shareholder guarantees, which ADB has been examining as part of its review of the Bank’s Capital Adequacy Framework.

The FM encouraged ADB to explore adopting an innovative, risk-factored approach for lending to the DMCs, taking into account the risk profile of countries backed by in-depth country diagnostics and analysis. She indicated India's support to remove the charter lending limit from the ADB Charter altogether and relocating the limitation to the board of directors-approved Capital Adequacy Framework (CAF).

During ADB's Governors' Seminar on 'Policies to Support Asia's Rebound' in Incheon yesterday, the FM said governments across the world must focus on labour-intensive industries and provide skill development in order to support people who will lose their jobs as the countries shift to net zero.

"We have to focus on labour-intensive industries & provide skill development. Industries are re-setting themselves in Web 3.0 era. Governments, together with industry, will have to bring in the skill sets required for a technology-driven society," said Sitharaman. She said it is always a balancing act, particularly for a country like India where the population is very high and the youth component of the population is even better in favour of the country.

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