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6 European high-tech firms to invest $940m in Korea

By Shin Ji-hye

Published : June 21, 2023 - 20:21

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President Yoon Suk Yeol greets businessmen attending the investment ceremony for the European region, held at a hotel in Paris, France on Wednesday (local time). (Yonhap) President Yoon Suk Yeol greets businessmen attending the investment ceremony for the European region, held at a hotel in Paris, France on Wednesday (local time). (Yonhap)

President Yoon Suk Yeol attended an investment forum to meet European business leaders, where six firms promised to invest $940 million in Korea on the last day of his visit to Paris.

Among the firms represented at the forum, French mining company Imerys, Belgium materials technology company Umicore, German automotive parts company Continental and British tech firm Nylacast said they plan to establish plants in South Korea, according to Yoon's office. The investments by European high-tech companies are expected to strengthen South Korea's key industries, including secondary batteries, electric vehicles and shipbuilding, the presidential office said.

At the forum, Yoon expressed his appreciation to the CEOs who decided to make large-scale investments in Korea.

"Korea and Europe, as partners sharing universal values, have built a close supply chain through investments in high-tech industries," he said. “Economic cooperation between Korea and Europe will be further strengthened with today's investment announcement.”

During a bilateral meeting held a day earlier, the leaders of South Korea and France agreed to deepen substantive cooperation in economic security and future strategic industries, according to Choi Sang-mok, senior presidential secretary for economic affairs.

Yoon and French President Emmanuel Macron pledged to work together to expand trade between the two countries, which reached a record high last year, according to Choi. The trade volume between Korea and France reached $13 billion, and the amount of investment between the two countries reached $486 million.

The leaders also agreed to actively support the continued expansion of mutual investment, particularly in cutting-edge fields such as secondary batteries. Yoon specifically requested that Macron pay special attention to ensure that new trade legislation being pursued by the European Union does not discriminate against Korean companies. The concern arises as the United States and Europe move to raise trade barriers in future industries, stirring up apprehension among Korean tech firms.

In addition, the leaders agreed to collaborate on space and energy. With the establishment of the Korea Aerospace Administration, the Korean equivalent of NASA, South Korea and France have decided to expand their space cooperation.

The two nations also agreed to achieve results in the defense industry, particularly within the aviation sector, an agreement in which the French aircraft firm Airbus and Korean companies have shown interest, Choi said. Cooperation in clean energy technologies, such as next-generation nuclear power plants -- including small modular reactors and hydrogen energy -- will also be strengthened.

Wrapping up his three-day visit to Paris, Yoon was set to depart for Hanoi, Vietnam, later in the afternoon for a three-day state visit. On Friday, leaders of the two countries are set to hold a summit to discuss ways to expand and develop bilateral relations, which have been upgraded to a comprehensive strategic partnership.