Korea, Qatar to bolster economic partnership

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Leaders of South Korea and Qatar agreed to expand cooperation in infrastructure, investment, energy and medical services during a summit on Sunday, an event expected to open business opportunities for Korean firms in the Gulf state, the host of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Park and her Qatari counterpart emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thanion discussed ways to bolster ties in infrastructure projects planned for the international sports event. The oil-rich Gulf state will host the event and plans to spend about $100 billion on construction projects including railroads, expressways, harbors and stadiums.

Taking the opportunity of the bilateral summit, South Korean officials said that they expect to participate in $29 billion worth infrastructure projects in the future, including the construction of the main stadium, railway and sewage processing.

The two sides also agreed to make joint investments in global markets. Qatar Investment Authority and Korea Investment Corporation have agreed to jointly establish a fund worth $2 billion for this purpose, they said.

The Qatari agency also expressed its interest in six projects in Korea, raising the possibility that the Gulf state would start making substantial investments in Asia’s fourth-largest economy. QIA ranks ninth in terms of the asset size. It currently holds about $256 billion worth of assets, according to officials.

The meeting between Park and emir Tamim came only four months after the leaders met in November in Seoul.

The two leaders observed the signing of a memorandum of understanding on nurturing professionals in the field of nuclear energy and development. The agreement was meant to secure more opportunities for Korean firms if Qatar plans to build nuclear reactors in the future, officials said.

Qatar was Park’s final destination of her four-nation trip to the Middle East. She earlier traveled to Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to diversify business relations amid falling oil prices and a slowing Korean economy.

Her senior secretaries said the trip helped South Korea diversify its business relation with the Gulf states, and expanded Park’s diplomatic landscape to the region. During her trip, South Korea signed a total of 44 MOUs and her business delegates clinched $900 million worth of contracts with their partners in the four countries.

An MOU on nuclear reactors reached with Saudi Arabia was the highlight of her trip. Under the agreement, the two sides are set to conduct a joint study to review the feasibility of building Korean-made midsized multifunctional nuclear reactors in the kingdom. If realized, the $2 billion project will help firms secure more opportunities as Saudi plans to build up to 18 large-reactors in the future.

(Korea Harold)

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