The two-way trade between Korea and United Arab Emirates is picking up steam rapidly this year surpassing last year's figure of US$20 billion when UAE is gearing up to diversify its non-oil industrial sector, South Korean Minister of Strategy and Finance Bahk Jaewan said.
He pledged to reinforce cooperation in areas where Korea's strength can be well harmonized with the UAE's policy direction which is also aimed at bolstering knowledge-based economy expressing hope that increased trade opportunities in service and other industries, not just resource-related industry.
"The UAE is Korea's second largest investment destination in the Middle East. Korea's direct investment to the UAE stood at USD 1.24 billion as of 2011", Jaewan told Emirates News Agency (WAM) in an interview.
Following are the excerpts of the interview:
What have you been discussing with the UAE Minister of Economy?
Korea's Ministry of Strategy and Finance and the UAE's Ministry of Economy have maintained bilateral cooperative ties since 2007 through the Joint Economic Committee Meeting. The Joint Committee is a high-level inter-governmental cooperative channel to discuss overall bilateral economic cooperation between the two nations.
Through the Committee, we have expanded the areas of cooperation to high value-added industries, such as finance, education, healthcare and medical sectors, from conventional ones like trade, investment, energy and construction.
At the Second Joint Committee Meeting held in 2010, we made a further progress, including our efforts to pursue the conclusion of an MOU for promoting cooperation in eight areas.
Based on our mutual trust and strong willingness to work together, at the Third Joint Committee as well, we will discuss cooperative measures in a wider range of areas such as medical services, agriculture, environment and IT.
What's the outlook for trade and investment with the UAE this year?
The UAE is Korea's important trading partner. It is our largest importer among GCC countries as well as the second largest oil exporter.
Bilateral trade which plummeted during the global financial crisis is showing a rapid recovery, surpassing USD 20 billion last year. Even though majority of the trading volume still come from crude oil, we expect that such dependence will steadily decline.
The UAE government is gearing up to diversify its industrial structure and build knowledge-based economy. And Korea plans to reinforce cooperation in areas where Korea's strength can be well harmonized with the UAE's policy direction.
In that sense, I am confident that we will see increased trade opportunities in service and other industries, not just resource-related industry.
Also, the UAE is our second largest investment destination in the Middle East. Korea's direct investment to the UAE stood at USD 1.24 billion as of 2011.
I hope to see more Korean companies advancing into the UAE market, and the Korean government as well will provide active support for them. I also look forward to the UAE's active investments in Korea.