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UAE-Korea ties grow to new heights: Report

posted on 05/03/2015: 1244 views

Bilateral ties between the UAE and South Korea are witnessing a qualitative growth in various economic, political and cultural fields, thanks to the commitment of UAE President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and President Park Geun-hye of South Korea to take them to new heights through realising full strategic economic and investment partnership.

The visit of the South Korean President to the UAE holds a special significance as it comes within the framework of the keen desire of both countries to give a fresh boost to bilateral ties so as to deliver more achievements that serve the mutual interests of the two friendly countries and people.

Though UAE-Korea ties are strong in terms of trade exchange, the win by a consortium of Korean companies for the contract to build four nuclear power plants in the UAE has leveraged economic relations to their highest level of cooperation. Construction of the four nuclear plants under the UAE's peaceful nuclear energy programme is on track as per the schedule agreed between the two friendly countries.

Developing Ties: The state visit of the Korean President to the UAE is a natural extension of the joint cooperative ties between the two countries who signed in December 2009 a series of important bilateral cooperation agreements on nuclear energy and oil.

On 27th December 2009, President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and then Korean President Lee Myung-bak, patronised a grand ceremony for striking a Dh75 billion contract between the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation, ENEC, and a consortium of US and South Korean companies led by Korea Electric Power Corporation, KEPCO, to design, build and help operate and maintain four civil nuclear power plants for the UAE's peaceful nuclear energy programme.

The joint cooperation agreements were inked by UAE Foreign Minister, H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and South Korean Minister of Knowledge Economy, Choi Kyung-hwan. The agreements cover a framework protocol for boosting economic partnership to further strengthen bilateral cooperation.

Under the agreement, the two countries will set up a higher committee and a number of sub-committees to facilitate cooperation in fields as diverse as peaceful nuclear energy, renewable energy, energy efficiency and sustainability, information technology and communications, semi-conductors, shipbuilding and human resources development.

Towards enforcing the framework agreement, the two sides also sealed three complementary agreements, including a Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, between the Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company (Masdar) and the Korean Ministry of Knowledge Economy for facilitating joint cooperation in renewable energy.

A multi-lateral agreement on education and human resources development was concluded between Khalifa University of Science, Technology and Research (KUSTAR) and the Institute of Applied Technology, and Korea's Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, Korea Electric Power Corporation, Human Resources Development Service of Korea (HRD) and Korea Development Institute.

The Abu Dhabi Systems and Information Centre and Korea Development Institute reached an agreement for exchange of information and communications technology.

In a statement after the ceremony, the UAE President said that relations of friendship between the UAE and South Korea were progressing steadily and hoped these new agreements would make a qualitative leap in bonds between the two friendly countries.

'Our relationship with South Korea, which has seen sustained growth in recent years, has ushered in a new era of strategic partnership which will serve the interest of the two countries,' Sheikh Khalifa said.

In May 2010, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, paid a three-day state visit to South Korea in reply to an invitation by its President, Lee Myung-bak.

During his visit, Sheikh Mohamed held talks with top Korean officials over progress and development bilateral ties, particularly in the areas of economy, investment, industry, education and energy. The talks also covered a variety of issues of mutual concern.

Sheikh Mohamed emphasised the depth of relations and close cooperation between the two friendly countries and their peoples and stressed that the ties were witnessing strategic evolution thanks to the guidance and support of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

H.H. Sheikh Mohamed described the award of the contract of building four nuclear power plants to a consortium led by South Korea as the largest deal in the history of bilateral ties.

Sheikh Mohamed also confirmed the commitment of the UAE to strengthen its constructive cooperation with South Korea in areas of clean energy, technology, information technology and SMEs.

Growing mutual interests: These remarkable developments underpin the growing mutual interests given the fact that the UAE is the second largest oil exporter to Korea and the second key market for Korean exports in the Middle East.

His Highness referred to a landmark joint cooperation agreement signed between the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development and the Korean Ministry of Finance for planning a long-term budget within the Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030.

Sheikh Mohamed emphasised that the UAE-Korea ties stemmed out from a common political will and deep understanding of mutual interest, which helped generate more promising opportunities for even stronger vibrancy, growth, diversity, dynamism and flexibility in the future.

Highlighting the strategic UAE-Korea ties, Sheikh Mohamed said, 'We are looking forward for broader cooperation and constructive joint work to address regional and international challenges, support peace and stability in the world and maintain joint coordination in foreign policy issues." As he welcomed Korean companies and investment to the UAE, His Highness said that nearly 130 Korean companies are operating in the UAE in different sectors, including heavy industries and information technology. He also invited the private sector to play its aspired role in advancing these ties by supporting mutual interests.

'The Korean development model is really impressive and we in the UAE, thanks to our wise leadership policy, have built a thriving, open economy and we are eager to develop and deepen our relations with other global dynamic economic powerhouses, including Korea,' H.H. said.

UAE is the largest trade partner to Korea: UAE Ambassador to Korea, Abdullah Khalfan Al Rumaithi, emphasised the keenness of the leaderships in the UAE and Korea to expand the existing strategic partnership to include vital sectors like oil, renewable energy, education and training, building and construction, environment, healthcare, shipbuilding, transport, communications and ICT.

Al Rumaithi told WAM that UAE-Korea ties were growing significantly in all walks of life as the two countries were bracing to seal more cooperation agreements that enhance security energy and stimulate economic development.

He noted that these important developments in bilateral ties followed the successful visits made by His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, to Korea in the recent years, which he said had opened up a new chapter in ties between the two countries.

In reply to questions about trade exchange, Al Rumaithi said Korea is the key trade partner to the UAE in the Gulf and Middle East with trade exchange reaching US$ 7 billion last year.

UAE exports crude oil and petroleum products, aluminium, and LNQ to Korea, and imports mobile telecommunication devices, steel frames, textiles, electronics and vehicles.

He added that the UAE attaches paramount importance to the meetings of the joint UAE-Korea economic commission as a key instrument through which the two countries boost channels of coordination and cooperation to the highest levels given their attractive economic potentials that can be further developed by narrowing points of view and prioritising key sectors of cooperation in areas of innovation, technology, SMEs, medicine, education and healthcare.

He added that the number of UAE students and trainees in Korea were increasing, especially in programmes related to nuclear energy, sciences and technology.

Cooperation in the medical sector and treatment of UAE citizens, he said, is another area of vital joint cooperation.

Al Rumaithi also highlighted the importance of cooperation in the SMEs sector and exchange of expertise with Korea which boosts of rich experiences in SMEs which constitute 99% of the total corporate sector in Korea with more than three million SMEs.

'Bilateral meetings and exchange of official visits provide catalysts for strong, vibrant economic relations with Korea, for close coordination and cooperation in vital areas and for increasing mutual investment over the next five years,' he said.

It is also important, he continued, to promote an economic diversification policy and open up new prospects for joint cooperation in various economic fields, notably technology, innovation, research and development, SMEs, industrial intellectual property rights, aviation, and a knowledge-driven economy, which has become a strategic objective of the UAE Government.

He said that the UAE Embassy in Korea is promoting the UAE's economic strengths, investment policies and attractions to Korea, adding that an attractive investment climate, ultra-modern integrated infrastructure including roads, sea and air ports, logistic services and free zones have attracted more than 3,000 foreign companies to the UAE.

He said that he expected UAE-Korea ties to see further growth, particularly in areas of technology, human resources development and nuclear energy. Wider cooperation is also projected in sectors like renewable energy, ICT, investment and financial services.

Technological and technical cooperation The Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation, ENEC, in partnership with the Institute of Applied Technology (IAT), Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO) and Sudo Electric Technical High School (SEHS) has developed the Sudo Summer Internship Programme, which aims to nurture students' academic knowledge and experience with practical applications in nanotechnology and nanoscience.

The inaugural Sudo programme, launched in 2010, proved an unprecedented success with the first batch of 50 Abu Dhabi-based students receiving invaluable technical training on nuclear energy during the four week course in South Korea.

The training programme forms the first practical implementation of an academic programme under the landmark agreement signed between the UAE and Korea to design, build and operate four civilian nuclear power plants at a total cost of US$20 billion.

Dr. Abdul Latif Al Shamsi, Director of IAT, said the Grade 11 interns received practical training and experiences at Korean nuclear plants that will qualify them to join the nuclear plants the UAE will operate from 2017. These talented engineers will be at the forefront of the UAE Nuclear Energy Programme's development and critical to its success. The high-ranked IAT Grade 11 students underwent the four-week programme which cover various theoretical and practical topics such as Mechatronics, Refrigeration, AutoCAD and Electronic Circuits.

The CEO of ENEC, Dr. Mohamed Al Hammadi, said that ENEC needs 2,100 to 2,300 Emirati engineers, technicians and administrators to carry out the UAE's peaceful nuclear programme. ENEC, he added, was planning for Sudo to qualify 60% of the total professionals needed for the mission.

Close bilateral ties: The UAE and Korea have developed very close ties for stronger trade and economic cooperation in both the short and long term. Since December 2009, the two countries have signed a raft of agreements in various vital sectors as part of joint efforts to bolster joint cooperation.

Korea's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Yun Byung-se, said his country's ties with the UAE were successful in all areas of cooperation, noting the many promising vital areas that both countries need to explore for further cooperation. The UAE, he added, is the largest market for Korean exports in the Middle East and the second supplier of crude oil to Korea.

He said that Korea's economic development model, which was unparalleled in the last two decades, is also linked to the UAE's ability to build a modern economy and it has a strong desire to realise comprehensive development, blending capital and rich resources with Korea's advanced technology and expertise. – Emirates News Agency, WAM –


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