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Iran’s investment plan in Korean biotech city stalls

[THE INVESTOR] Iran’s plan to invest a total of US$2 billion in a major biotech complex in South Korea has stalled despite eased foreign currency transaction rules, industry observers said on Sept. 7.

Earlier this year, a consortium led by the Iranian government signed a memorandum of understanding with the government of North Chungcheong Province.

The Iranian side first agreed to provide $2 million for its initial investment into Osong Biovalley inside the province‘s free economic zone between July and August.

It marked the first foreign direct investment pledge Chungbuk Free Economic Zone has attracted, with the consortium agreeing to make the investment for the next decade.

The long-term plan called for building a joint research center, drug production lines and a clinical trial hospital in Osong, a city located some 130 kilometers south of Seoul. The city aims to become a global biotech and medical industry hub.

After eight months, however, no Iranian funds have been deposited into the project, the observers said.

The provincial government has failed to grasp why the investment has been postponed, they said.

“It is true that not much progress has been made as it is difficult to contact the Iranian side,” said an official of the North Chungcheong provincial government. Gov. Lee Si-jong even visited Iran and Turkey in May as part of efforts to draw investment and help companies based in the province to launch businesses there.

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