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Chaebol leaders join Yoon's trip to UAE, WEF

Samsung Electronics Chairman Lee Jae-yong (third from left) poses with employees of Samsung C&T at the Barakah nuclear power plant construction site in Al Dhafra of Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Dec. 6, 2022. (Samsung Electronics)
Samsung Electronics Chairman Lee Jae-yong (third from left) poses with employees of Samsung C&T at the Barakah nuclear power plant construction site in Al Dhafra of Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Dec. 6, 2022. (Samsung Electronics)

Top executives of Samsung, SK and Hyundai are accompanying South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol on his state visit to the United Arab Emirates as well as to the World Economic Forum, as part of an official business delegation aimed at boosting economic cooperation.

Samsung Electronics Chairman Lee Jae-yong, SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won and Hyundai Motor Group Chairman Chung Euisun are among the chiefs of 100 South Korean companies making up the business delegation, according to industry sources.

"Saying he is accompanied by various ministers and some 100 entrepreneurs, Yoon said he looks forward to seeing big achievements from the visit,” said Kim Eun-hye, senior presidential secretary for press affairs, after Yoon arrived in Abu Dhabi for a four-day visit Sunday.

It is the first time for a South Korean president to make a state visit to the UAE since the two countries established diplomatic ties in 1980. Yoon was to hold a summit with his UAE counterpart, Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, to discuss upgrading the bilateral ties into a strategic partnership.

It is also the first time Yoon is bringing an official business delegation for an overseas presidential trip, since he came into office in May last year. The delegation consists of the chiefs of 24 conglomerates, 69 medium-sized, midsized and small companies as well as seven business associations, according to the Korea International Trade Association.

Doosan Enerbility Chairman Park Gee-won, HD Hyundai President Chung Ki-sun and GS Energy Chief Executive Officer Huh Yong-soo are among the leaders who joined the delegation. LG Group Chairman Koo Kwang-mo and Lotte Group Chairman Shin Dong-bin have not joined the delegation, but they will be attending this year’s World Economic Forum, according to industry sources.

National security adviser Kim Sung-han said the government formed the business delegation to “drastically” strengthen strategic cooperation with the UAE in nuclear power, energy, defense, and other investments.

The two countries are reportedly finishing up some 30 memorandums of understanding involving the government and private sector. State leaders are also expected to discuss possibilities for cooperation with UAE sovereign wealth funds.

During the trip, members of the business delegation are expected to attend meetings and events including the Korea-UAE Economic Forum. They will then take off to Switzerland to attend the World Economic Forum in Davos from Wednesday to Thursday.

Business leaders are expected to attend a luncheon meeting hosted by Yoon at the WEF, where top executives of other global tech giants, such as Intel, IBM and Qualcomm are expected to join.

The Korean chiefs are also expected to participate in the Korea Night, a gathering hosted on the sidelines of the WEF by the Federation of Korean Industries, where they will woo support for Busan’s bid for Expo 2030.

For Samsung’s Lee, the trip to the UAE comes just a month after his last trip in December.

By Jo He-rim (herim@heraldcorp.com)

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