The doors for Korean businesses, investors and projects are open in El Salvador, according to Nelson Reyes, El Salvador's vice minister of transportation, referring to a recent infrastructure project deal won by two South Korean builders.
South Korea's Dongbu Corp. has won a bid for the construction of the Los Chorros road project that would expand the Los Chorros highway and connect key regions of El Salvador. Dohwa Engineering also has won its bid for the supervision of the Los Chorros project, Reyes told The Korea Herald on Wednesday.
The $411 million Los Chorros project will be funded by the Central American Bank for Economic Integration and Korea Eximbank, and its participation marks a significant beginning, he said. The vice minister said he hopes to see more participation by Korean authorities for the Pacific Train Project, a key infrastructure project being pushed by El Salvador’s President Nayib Bukele.
The project aims to reduce transportation costs for freight and passengers.
According to the Finance Ministry, Korea will offer a low-interest loan of $210 million to support El Salvador's Los Chorros project via the Economic Development Cooperation Fund, while CABEI provides $200 million.
The EDCF was launched in 1987 to support economic and social infrastructure projects in developing countries.
CABEI is a multilateral development financial institution established in 1960 to promote economic integration and balanced economic and social development in Central American countries.
"Los Chorros opens doors for Korean companies to bring expertise to El Salvador and establish subsidiaries," said Reyes.
To turn El Salvador into a logistics hub of Central America, the country has been pushing for another project to connect the country's main Port of Acajutla with some of the country's main industrial districts. To make that happen, El Salvador needs more of Korea's participation.
The port receives more than 80 percent of the total ships that arrive in El Salvador, accounting for 95 percent of the country's total cargo volume.
When asked about security concerns, the vice minister stressed that El Salvador is safe and open to business.
"El Salvador celebrated 365 days without homicide (this month)," he said. The touted number refers to nonconsecutive days of a homicide not being recorded in the country since the beginning of Bukele's presidency in June 2019.
El Salvador has also emerged as the focal point of international events, citing its hosting of the World Surfing Games and Miss Universe.
Reyes came to Seoul to attend the Korea LAC Cooperation Forum, under which he met high-level authorities of the Foreign Ministry and Korean Prime Minister Han Duck-soo on Tuesday.
He also visited with the Korea National Railway to learn more about Korea's expertise on building and operating high-speed railways and the metro system.
Reyes also met with Dong Myeong Engineering Consultants & Architecture, Hyundai E&C and LG CNS and discussed future initiatives and collaboration opportunities between El Salvador and Korea.