One of the most efficient ways to survive in a prolonged phase of slow growth is to keep a tight grasp on key business partner states, according to the state-run Korea Eximbank.
The advice came during the Asia & Middle East Conference 2014 hosted by the bank at the Grand InterContinental Seoul Parnas on Wednesday, inviting key overseas officials to present their ongoing projects and to seek partnerships with Korean companies.
|Export-Import Bank of Korea CEO Lee Duk-hoon (front row, fourth from left) poses with participants of the Korea Eximbank Asia & Middle East Conference 2014 including Vice Finance Minister Choo Kyung-ho (front row, fifth from left) and Vietnamese Vice Minister of Transport Truong Tan Vien (front row, third from right) on Wednesday. (Korea Eximbank)|
The annual event began in 2012 as the EXIM-MENA Conference and targeted the Middle East and North Africa. This year, Southeast Asia was included on the agenda, reflecting the region’s soaring demand for infrastructure investment.
“Despite growing market challenges, Korean companies are increasingly participating as active equity investors in new projects, while maintaining their traditional roles in engineering and construction,” said Eximbank CEO Lee Duk-hoon.
The expansion of Korean firms was most conspicuous in the Middle East, where Korean companies have long enjoyed strong ties and high profits, according to Lee.
Supporting Lee’s speech, Khalid Salem Al-Rowais, vice president of the Saudi Arabian mining company Ma’aden, reported that its investments with Korean companies soared from an estimated $3.9 billion in 2007 to $5.6 billion this year.
A considerable amount ― $1.18 billion out of the $5.6 billion this year ― was directly financed by Korean state-run organizations such as Eximbank and the Korea Trade Insurance Corporation, he added.
Along with the long-prosperous Middle East, Southeast Asia was pointed out as a potential market for Korean project financing.
“Last year, the Asia-Pacific project finance market accounted for 27 percent of the global market,” said Bruce Weller, head of project debt advisory and finance at BNP Paribas.
“But the market still has underdeveloped sectors, such as project bonds, in which investors may expect yields in the long-term.”
A representative example of project financing in the Asian region is the New Railway Project led by the Mongolian government, an estimated $8 billion plan to build a 1,800-kilometer railway and related infrastructure.
By Bae Hyun-jung (email@example.com