Thursday, June 20, 2024

Korea, Africa vow to expand trade, enhance private sector business partnerships

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President Yoon Suk Yeol delivers a keynote speech during the 2024 Korea-Africa Business Summit at Lotte Hotel Seoul, Wednesday. Yonhap

By Lee Min-hyung

Korea and Africa announced plans to intensify discussions to establish a joint economic committee, fostering deeper collaboration to strengthen their future business partnerships, the two sides revealed on the sidelines of the 2024 Korea-Africa Business Summit in Seoul Wednesday.

Organized by the Korea International Trade Association (KITA), the event served as a catalyst for both parties to enhance economic and business interactions. With over 500 attendees, discussions centered on strategies to bolster their collaboration in domains like job creation and the trade of critical minerals.

A group of 20 African leaders shared a common view with Korea’s President Yoon Suk Yeol and ranking government officials, including Industry Minister Ahn Duk-geun.

Top executives from major conglomerates also joined the summit. They included Hyundai Motor Group Executive Chair Chung Euisun, Lotte Group Chairman Shin Dong-bin and CJ Group Chairman Sohn Kyung-shik.

In particular, both sides reached a consensus on commencing discussions for the establishment of the Korea-Africa Economic Collaboration Committee, laying the groundwork for a more comprehensive and sustainable partnership. To bolster this initiative, the Korea International Trade Association (KITA) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the office of the African Continental Free Trade Area.

Yoon proposed enhancing bilateral economic and trade partnerships by establishing pertinent institutional frameworks.

“First and foremost, Korea and Africa should narrow their economic gap by drastically increasing trade volume and expanding bilateral investments,” Yoon said during the summit.

He also expected the latest event to help boost Africa’s partnerships with Korean firms.

“It is crucial for us to fulfill the carbon-free energy initiative by using nuclear, solar and hydrogen energy to deal with climate change,” he said. “We hope African nations expand ties with Korean firms for our energy transition.”

Hyundai Motor Group Executive Chair Chung Euisun, right, speaks with Lotte Group Chairman Shin Dong-bin, second from left on the same table, on the sidelines of the Korea-Africa Business Summit, at Lotte Hotel Seoul, Wednesday. Joint Press Corps-Yonhap

Hyundai Motor Group Executive Chair Chung Euisun, right, speaks with Lotte Group Chairman Shin Dong-bin, second from left on the same table, on the sidelines of the Korea-Africa Business Summit, at Lotte Hotel Seoul, Wednesday. Joint Press Corps-Yonhap

Leaders of major business organizations here, such as KITA Chairman Yoon Jin-sik and Federation of Korean Industries Chairman Ryu Jin, also attended the summit to boost business ties with their African counterparts.

“Korea and African countries have walked on the same road for co-prosperity,” the KITA chief said in an opening remark at the summit. “Both sides will be able to reaffirm their strong bond and draw a bigger future through the Korea-Africa Business Summit.”

“The establishment of the committee will help Korea elevate its partnerships with countries in the African continent,” he said. “This will enhance their trade and economic relations.”

Both parties will also be able to seek sustainable partnerships by stepping up their exchanges through the committee, according to the head of the trade association.

The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy generated tangible outcomes on the sidelines of the summit, signing 12 MOUs in the areas of trade, investments and mineral exchanges with its African counterparts.

The summit participants shared their ideas under four key themes. First, Korea brought up the agenda of how to activate investments and drive industrialization in Africa. Both sides also pledged to increase their trade volume and create more jobs while pursuing joint projects. Africa agreed to strengthen mineral supplies to Korea.

They also discussed their status quo regarding decarbonization and future steps to realize it, agreeing to elevate joint actions to respond to climate change.

The latest event came a day after delegations from a total of 48 African nations visited Seoul for a summit with Yoon on Tuesday. He pledged to expand the official development assistance (ODA) fund to African countries to $10 billion (13.7 trillion won) by 2030.



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