Korea expands relations with Latin America

By Korea Herald
  • Published : May 27, 2012 - 20:22
  • Updated : Jun 12, 2012 - 19:10
Foreign minister Kim discuss enhanced ties on 4-country tour

Foreign ministers from Korea and Chile have pledged to upgrade the political partnership of the two countries in line with ever-growing trade and economic cooperation, the Foreign Ministry said Sunday.

During a meeting in Santiago on Friday, Kim Sung-hwan and Alfredo Moreno agreed to forge a “comprehensive cooperative partnership.” They also discussed ways to expand collaboration in resources, trade and investment, infrastructure, climate change, renewable energy, Antarctic research, and people-to-people exchanges.

Moreno expressed hopes for the two countries’ greater cooperation in energy, resources development and renewable energy, as well as increased investment by Korean companies, Seoul officials added.

The first visit by a Korean foreign minister to Chile in 17 years coincides with the 50th anniversary of diplomatic ties between the two countries.

He is on a tour of four Latin American nations which also took him to Colombia and Peru earlier last week. He will visit Brazil this week.

Korea is striving to enhance cooperation with Latin America as it seeks a bigger slice of the region’s vast mineral deposits, fast-growing consumer markets and development cooperation projects.

Chile was the first free trade partner of Korea. Bilateral trade volume has tripled since the free trade agreement took effect in 2004, government data shows. 
Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan (left) talks with his Chilean counterpart Alfredo Moreno in Santiago on Friday. (Foreign Ministry)

The OECD forecasts 4.4 percent growth this year for Latin America’s second-largest economy, which boasts ample reserves of copper, lithium and other minerals.

In the Chilean capital, Kim also sealed an agreement with Alicia Barcena, executive secretary of the U.N. Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, a U.N. agency representing 33 nations in the region.

Under the deal, Korea and ECLAC will scale up information and expert sharing, and joint research on the region’s development.

“The memorandum of understanding has significance in establishing the institutional foundation for bilateral cooperation for the first time since Korea’s joining of ECLAC,” the Foreign Ministry said.

ECLAC was founded in 1948 to promote the region’s integration, collaboration, and social and economic development.

Since its 2007 joining, Korea has been funding joint research projects and seminars with the agency and dispatching interns and college students every year.

Foreign direct investment inflows to ECLAC countries spiked 31 percent last year to a record $153.4 billion and are expected to remain steady this year, the Santiago-headquartered agency said early this month.

In Peru, Kim met with President Ollanta Humala and Foreign Minister Rafael Roncagliolo to discuss diplomatic and defense industry cooperation.

He announced an agreement with Peru to provide defense technology transfers related to its plan to sell its KT-1 training aircraft and police patrol cars.

“Through technology transfer, Korea will support Peru in areas of joint production of training planes and navy ships,” Kim told reporters on Thursday after meeting the president.

Korea and Peru have made significant progress in negotiations concerning the trainer jet deal during Humala’s visit to Seoul earlier this moth.

“The training aircraft issue will soon take shape. However, the keyword is technology transfer, which is a fundamental condition,” the Peruvian leader said in Seoul.

The two ministers also followed up on with the summit between President Lee Myung-bak and Humala in which they agreed to elevate their relationship to a “comprehensive strategic partnership” and enhance cooperation in resource development, investment and exchanges of knowledge and technology,

The free trade agreement between the two countries took effect on Aug. 1, 2011.

By Shin Hyon-hee (