South Korea may have a new customer for its nuclear power plant technology.
The Philippines, a longtime ally to Korea, expressed interest during a three-day visit by their Foreign Minister Alberto Romulo.
While the details are still being discussed in Manila, the Southeast Asian nation believes that nuclear technology is an ideal option to replace fossil fuels and help protect their environment.
“We are affected by climate change,” he told The Korea Herald. “The Philippines suffered two devastating typhoons, Ketsana and Parma,” leaving hundreds dead and over $800 million worth of damage.
“We are part of that group looking for more binding commitments from others (countries participating in the United Nations climate change conferences) so that’s why we are looking at nuclear power, because it will contribute much less to the carbon emissions,” he said.
Trade and investments was also part of his talks with President Lee Myung-bak and Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan.
In terms of trade, Korea is the archipelago’s 5th-largest trading partner, with products shipped on both sides forecasted to have hit close to $10 billion for 2010.
Romulo and Kim are looking to increase that to $15 billion in the coming years.
Romulo assured the Korean government that his government and agencies are doing everything possible to keep the over 700,000 Korean tourists and 115,000-strong Korean diaspora in the Philippines safe from harm.
“Tourism is a very important part of our medium development plan,” Romulo noted.
Investments are also big business for Korean firms operating in the Philippines.
Hanjin is one of the biggest foreign investors in the Philippines, investing $1.65 billion in a shipyard in Subic. It is also constructing a shipping facility at the Philippine Veterans Investment Development Corp. in Misamis Oriental.
A resort project in Subic by Korean property developer M Castle Philippines also joined in raising foreign direct investment by building a resort and golf course costing $1.11 billion in the first half of 2010.
Romulo also spoke about the multi-industry cluster program which “is very important, because it would involve agriculture, eco-tourism, energy, biomass, so we are working together with Korea on this and already have specific programs (in place).”
The program will boost the economy in areas of rice and corn production and also develop irrigation projects.
“We are looking forward for the conclusion of the economic development cooperation program between Korea and Philippines,” he said.
Also during his meeting with Lee, Romulo was issued an invitation for President Benigno Aquino III to visit Korea.
By Yoav Cerralbo (firstname.lastname@example.org)