S. Korea sees progress on workers’ return from North

Updated 02 May 2013
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S. Korea sees progress on workers’ return from North

SEOUL: South Korea said yesterday it was edging toward a deal with North Korea to ensure the return of the remaining workers at a joint industrial zone that has become a casualty of military tensions.
The Kaesong industrial complex — built 10 km north of the tense border in 2004 — was once a rare symbol of inter-Korean cooperation but now faces the possibility of permanent closure.
South Korea had been due to pull out its remaining workers on Monday but seven remained to settle unresolved issues such as unpaid taxes and wages for North Korean workers, believed to amount to millions of dollars.
“Differences are being narrowed even if the pace is slower than we expected,” a spokesman for the South’s Unification Ministry told reporters.
He said the South Koreans had remained at the Kaesong industrial complex “voluntarily” to resolve the issues at the North’s request, downplaying fears they might be held hostage.
Seoul last week ordered all remaining South Koreans to leave after Pyongyang banned entry by southerners, pulled out all its own 53,000 workers and rejected the South’s call for talks on the impasse.
Tension has been high since the North, angered by fresh UN sanctions sparked by its nuclear test in February and South-US military drills, issued a series of apocalyptic threats of a nuclear war against Seoul and Washington.
Seoul’s top nuclear envoy headed for Beijing Wednesday for talks with Chinese officials on the stand-off on the Korean Peninsula.
South Korean companies with interests at Kaesong have expressed shock at the sudden withdrawal from the complex.
The North ignored a plea by South Korean businessmen to visit the joint industrial zone on Tuesday for talks on its future.
Established in 2004, Kaesong is a crucial hard currency source for the impoverished North, through taxes and revenues, and from its cut of worker wages.
The project was born out of the “Sunshine Policy” of inter-Korean conciliation initiated in the late 1990s by South Korean President Kim Dae-Jung.
“We’re not dealing with the issue of Kaesong simply from the perspective of economic gains,” the Unification Ministry spokesman said.
“It plays roles in the future of inter-Korean relations and peace and prosperity on the Korean peninsula.
“Our position is that Kaesong industrial district should be continuously maintained and developed.” Pyongyang has blamed Seoul for the deadlock.
“All Koreans will never forgive the (South’s government) if it allows the Kaesong complex to collapse,” the North’s government newspaper, Minju Joson, said in an editorial on Tuesday.


With 10-year visa, UAE could be new land of opportunity for Indians

Routine day at Dubai International Airport. AN photo
Updated 23 May 2018
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With 10-year visa, UAE could be new land of opportunity for Indians

  • The ruler of Dubai changed rules to allow foreign investors to fully own companies
  • The Indian banking sector is far more developed in terms of product, technology and the caliber of professionals

NEW DELHI: Indians are likely to “flood” the UAE once its recently announced residency visa rules for students and highly qualified professionals come into place, experts said Tuesday.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, vice president and the prime minister of the UAE, announced on Sunday a 10-year visa for investors, scientists, doctors, engineers, entrepreneurs and innovators, as well as their families.
 As part of the changes, students will get five-year visas and “exceptional” graduates will be eligible for a 10-year visa.  Students currently have to apply to renew their visa each year.
The ruler of Dubai also changed rules to allow foreign investors to fully own companies. So far companies have been required to have a local partner who would hold the majority stake.
 The changes are expected to kick in during the third quarter of this year.
 “The UAE has always welcomed, and always will, innovators and business leaders,” Sheikh Mohammed tweeted as he announced the new rules.
 The UAE, with its proximity to India, high salaries and low taxes, has always been a magnet for Indians. It is home to about 2.6 million Indians who make up roughly 30 percent of the country’s population, according to the Indian Embassy in Abu Dhabi. These numbers are expected to shoot up once the new rules apply.
 “Indians are always looking at new work opportunities anywhere in the world,” said Aradhana Mahna, managing director of Manya Education, a study abroad solutions provider in Delhi.  While the US and the UK have historically been avenues for Indian students looking to study abroad, the number of students applying to those countries have undergone a “sharp decline” since the election of US President Donald Trump — who made protectionist comments during his campaign days and since taking office — and since the UK decided to split with the European Union, Mahna said.
 “Dubai is close to home and that has always made it a preferred destination for Indians. Especially now with the US going down, it will be flooded by Indians,” she added.
Mukesh Bhasin, partner at Career Connect, an executive search firm that focuses on banking, financial services and the insurance sector (BFSI), agreed that the new rules would go a long way in attracting Indian talent.
 “The Indian banking sector is far more developed in terms of product, technology and the caliber of professionals,” he said. “The encouraging visa regime will lead to a lot of interest from Indian BFSI professionals toward Middle East opportunities given the already-existing tax benefits and international-quality lifestyle.”
 Since the collapse in 2008 of Lehman Brothers, most developed markets, including neighboring Singapore and Hong Kong, have cut back on the number of people they are hiring from abroad for their domestic operations. This includes a slowdown in foreign transfers for Indian employees of multinational banks, said Bhasin.