Latin American nations and Korea have great opportunity to cooperate and promote their cultures this year, said Argentine Ambassador to South Korea Alfredo Carlos Bascou in a recent interview with The Korea Herald.
“Latin America offers an economy that is very complementary to the Korean (one) and, for this reason, the future agenda of our countries with Korea is very promising and diverse in topics and businesses,” the ambassador said.
According to Bascou, 13 embassies from Latin America (Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama and Paraguay) are jointly celebrating their 60th anniversaries of ties. Events to mark the occasion include screenings at KF World Cinema Week, a seminar on trade and investment, a day of volunteering with habitat for humanity, and various events during KF Public diplomacy.
Bascou said that Feb. 15 marked the 60th anniversary of relations between Argentina and Korea. The two countries have a comprehensive partnership and framework that covers science and technology, climate change, trade and investments, cultural and student exchanges, Antarctica exploration and research, human rights and LGBTQ issues.
“Argentina and Korea are G-20 that discuss about future global economic growth and prosperity,” said Bascou, mentioning bilateral trade of $2.215 billion in 2021 between Argentina and Korea, an increase of 80.7 percent compared to 2020.
“Argentina and Korea are complementary economies with enormous potential to develop a strategic and comprehensive relationship,” said Bascou.
He said Argentina was actively approaching Korean companies, agencies, ministers, think tanks and technology institutions to open more spaces to collaborate.
He said that Argentina has necessary resources for energy transition and shares same commitment with Korea to move into a green energy world.
Asked why Argentina was focusing on lithium and green hydrogen Bascou stated lithium is a challenge to global energy transition in context of gradual depletion of fossil fuels and dangerous environmental consequences of their extraction and use.
He acknowledged trends to electrify mobility and energy matrixes that increase pressure on lithium reserves, an input for the production of batteries
According to the ambassador, Argentina currently offers greatest opportunities for new exploration and exploitation activities with regulatory framework that oversees exploitation of lithium is more open to investment, mentioning lithium reserves in the Andean salt flats, an area known as the Lithium Triangle, which is shared with Bolivia and Chile.
The ambassador stressed Argentina has comparative advantages in the energy sector, citing abundant sources of wind, solar and hydro power, non-conventional natural gas, biomass and biofuels.
He also stressed the hydrogen economy. According to Bascou, Argentina established an “H2 Interministerial Council” to coordinate hydrogen initiatives.
“Recently Posco confirmed construction of a commercial lithium hydroxide plant for electric car batteries in northern Argentina,” stressed Bascou adding Argentina with ideal conditions for development of renewable energies is undergoing ambitious infrastructure plan of transport section.
Korean and Argentine companies involved in the hydrogen economy in both countries are in close dialogue, said the Argentine ambassador.
He suggested Korean companies explore IT, bio-technology, water and sanitation, aerospace and satellite industry, and startups in Argentina.
Highlighting the cooperation during COVID-19 pandemic, Bascou recalled that President Alberto Fernandez and President Moon Jae-in held phone conversations to discuss current global agenda, pandemic situation and ways to cooperate in difficult circumstances.
“Korea donated face masks and kits to Argentina in the first months of 2020,” he thanked and congratulated Korean authorities for effectively managing pandemic with a limited impact on the economy.
Bascou said Korea seemed well prepared for the post COVID-19 era, with strong growth in GDP and employment, and Latin American countries offered abundant opportunities for Korean businesses to invest and partner.
This interview is a part of The Korea Herald’s interviews commemorating 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between of Korea and 13 Latin American countries with embassies in Seoul. -- Ed
By Sanjay Kumar (email@example.com