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Lee Jae-yong heads for Panama, first importer of Samsung's color TV

Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong (center, front row) chats with Panamanian President Laurentino Cortizo (right) during his visit to Heron's Palace, Panama City, Tuesday. (Samsung Electronics)
Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong (center, front row) chats with Panamanian President Laurentino Cortizo (right) during his visit to Heron's Palace, Panama City, Tuesday. (Samsung Electronics)

Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong has visited Panama to hold talks with Panamanian President Laurentino Cortizo and meet Samsung executives there, the tech giant said Wednesday.

The isthmus country, which connects Central and South America, was the first importer of Samsung Electronics' color TVs in 1977, and is home to Samsung's oldest overseas office.

Lee, heir to South Korea's largest conglomerate dedicated to electronics, construction and finance, met President Cortizo at Heron's Palace in the country’s capital of Panama City on Tuesday to seek support for Korean port city Busan's bid to host the 2030 World Expo.

Also during the meeting, Lee showed interest in Samsung's role in the World Robotics Olympiad in November 2023 as a sponsor, according to the Panamanian president. Panama is the host city of the international final of the World Robotics Olympiad.

The two also discussed partnerships between Samsung and Panamanian companies, according to Samsung.

"Panama encourages foreign investment with public policies that facilitate the installation of multinational companies that generate jobs, which contribute to the country's economy," read a Twitter post on Cortizo's account.

The meeting underscores Panama's significance as Samsung's oldest trade partner.

Samsung began exporting color TVs with countries including Panama in 1977, the same year they began their mass production.

Samsung sampled the 14-inch color TV for the first time in Korea in June 1976, four years before Korea introduced the national color broadcast. The homegrown color TVs were a game changer then, as Samsung relied heavily on imports of components from Japanese companies to make black-and-white TVs.

Lee's visit to Panama came after the de facto leader went on an overseas business trip earlier last week. During the Korean thanksgiving holiday of Chuseok, Lee went to Mexico to hold talks with Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.

Lee is one of several major Korean business tycoons to promote Busan's bid to host the 2030 World Expo. Eleven conglomerates in Korea are involved in the private-sector promotion of Busan's World Expo bid.



By Son Ji-hyoung (consnow@heraldcorp.com)
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