By Joseph Varghese/Staff Reporter
The annual trade between Qatar and South Korea amounted to over $20.5bn, said South Korean Ambassador to Qatar Keejong Chung yesterday.
In an exclusive interview with Gulf Times, Ambassador Chung said that the energy import from Qatar to South Korea met almost 30% of his country’s energy demands.
The South Korean envoy said: “South Korean export to Qatar is around $600mn annually and is growing steadily. Our country exports mainly steel, electronics, automobiles, machinery and consumer goods to Qatar.
There are 16 South Korean construction companies operating in Qatar but the South Korean electronics and automobiles are made available in the country through the dealers and none of those companies operate directly in the country.”
He added that there are about 2,000 Koreans in the country and out of that 800 ladies are working for Qatar Airways.
Chung said that South Korea was keen on expanding political, economic and cultural ties with Qatar. According to him, for South Korea which is one of the leading importers of LNG from Qatar energy co-operation is one of the basic pillars of the long lasting relationship between the two countries.
He explained: “Energy co-operation and construction co-operation are two major pillars of the relationship between both the countries. We are keen on strengthening the relationship with Qatar. Next year we are celebrating 40th year of Qatar-South Korea relationship. We hope that there will be more projects and co-operation between both the countries to celebrate the occasion.”
As for the political visits of the leaders from both the countries, Chung said that last year, South Korean president had visited Qatar and there was a high-level strategic co-operation meeting between Qatar and Korea last October.
He observed: “We hope that there will be high-level diplomatic visits from Qatar to South Korea in the near future and some ministerial delegations from South Korea will visit Qatar later this year. Three will also be the continuation of the high level meeting between both the countries towards the second half of the year.”
The South Korean envoy said that technology and research was another area of co-operation between both the countries.
He said: “South Korea and Qatar University will sign a memorandum of understanding soon to depute a Korean professor in Qatar University to facilitate various research activities in Qatar. Similarly, many of the Korean universities are open to tie up with Qatar especially with Qatar Foundation. We have expressed our interest and as and when the authorities in Qatar respond, we will take up the discussions further.”
Ambassador Chung said that South Korean companies were hopeful of bagging many of the upcoming projects in Qatar.
He said: “The FIFA 2022 is a big opportunity for South Korea companies as it takes a lot of infrastructure development in Qatar. They are ready to offer their expertise in infrastructure and take part in the development projects. Like many other countries, we are hopeful that the Korean companies will be awarded some of the contracts for infrastructure development. We are ready to offer our expertise in these areas as our companies have significant amount of experience in infrastructure development.”