Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Friday invited the South Korean industry to explore the feasibility of producing in India the components used in main weapon system and imported by Indian defence PSUs and also proposed to set up a task-force to identify items that are economically viable.

The proposition was made with an aim to reduce the country’s import bill, according to an official statement issued in New Delhi.

Addressing CEOs of South Korean and Indian defence industries in Seoul, in presence of Minister of Defence Acquisition and Programme Administration of Korea Wang Jung-hong, Singh said the two countries have formulated a roadmap to take the bilateral defence co-operation to the next level.

He said the roadmap has listed a number of areas for cooperation such as land systems, aero systems, naval systems, R&D and collaboration in testing, certification and quality assurance.

He also invited the South Korean defence manufacturing companies to invest in India and assured them all necessary assistance to facilitate investment and joint ventures.

“Rajnath Singh invited the Korean industry to explore the feasibility of local production of items, used in main weapon system, imported by Indian defence PSUs. He proposed setting up of a task force which identifies such items which are economically viable and locally produced in India resulting in reduction of import bill,” the statement said.

Singh expressed confidence that India and South Korea will seize the opportunity for a win-win situation by collaboration, cooperation, co-production and co-development.

“India offers tremendous business opportunity to Korean defence industries in India with liberalised licensing regime, attractive FDI provisions, strong and skilled industrial workforce, single-window clearances and establishment of Defence Investor Cell to facilitate investors and various other industry-friendly initiatives,” Singh said.

He also invited a delegation from South Korean defence industries to participate in DefExpo 2020 which will be held from February 5-8 in 2020 in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh.

He also took note of the MoU being entered into to facilitate participation of large Original Equipment Manufacturers, MSMEs and South Korean Industries in various defence exhibitions in India.

“Attractive discounts can also be offered to such companies who come forward to participate in Def Expo 2020,” Singh, who arrived in Seoul on Wednesday on a three-day visit, added.

Earlier, the CEO forum was given a detailed presentation about India’s initiatives to attract investments from South Korea’s defence industries.

The forum was jointly organised by the Embassy of Indian and Department, Defence Production, Ministry of Defence.

Secretary (Defence Production) Subhash Chandra, Defence Secretary Ajay Kumar, Indian Ambassador in South Korea Sripriya Ranganathan and other senior officials of India and South Korea were present on the occasion.

The senior government officials and industry leaders of both sides also held Business-to-Government (B2G) meeting in which they explained various investment opportunities available in defence corridors in Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu and the upcoming DefExpo 2020.

Later, Singh addressed the captains of Indian and South Korea’s defence industry at the reception given by Indian Embassy in Seoul.

He assured the South Korean Industry leaders that the government will facilitate investments in India’s defence corridors and extend all incentives and concessions as per the policy. He said those companies can have easy access to markets in other countries in the region.

“We are progressing towards becoming a manufacturing hub of defence equipment and investors can use India as a spring board to export defence equipment manufactured in India to various friendly countries in South East Asia, Middle Asia, Middle East Asia, South Asia and Africa,” Singh added.

Singh said the defence relations between India and South Korea have expanded in recent years, spurred by a convergence of strategic interests and shared mutual goodwill.

He said Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President of Republic of Korea Moon Jae-in share a close bond which has infused the relationship with a greater sense of purpose.

“Under its ‘Act East Policy’, India considers South Korea an indispensable partner for cooperation. We are also conscious of the fact that ROK aims to cement its bilateral relations with India further through the ‘New Southern Policy’,” Singh said.

Singh also expressed happiness about ISRO’s Chandrayaan2 mission.

The defence minister said the achievement is an embodiment of India’s technical expertise, capability of scientific and technological community that the country can deliver. He termed it is as the most economical voyage ever undertaken by a space agency of any country.