The relationship between Qatar and South Korea has become more diversified in recent years as part of both countries’ efforts to enhance co-operation and transform them into comprehensive strategic ties.
Speaking to Gulf Times at the Qatari embassy in Seoul, ambassador Khalid bin Ebrahim al-Hamar expressed confidence in the “further development” of both countries’ diplomatic relations, which were established in 1974.
Asked about the current state of economic and trade relations between South Korea and Qatar, al-Hamar said ties between both nations “are built on mutual interests and have witnessed great development” since the 1970s and when Qatar opened its embassy in the Republic of Korea in 1992.
“With regard to economic and trade, the Joint Supreme Committee for Strategic Co-operation between Qatar and South Korea is the body responsible for enhancing co-operation and includes officials from various ministries from the two countries.
“This committee works to enhance joint co-operation in various fields of co-operation, which include economy, trade and investment, agriculture, science and technology, ICT, education, and health and medical services,” the ambassador explained.
On June 15, al-Hamar said South Korea hosted the sixth session of the Joint Supreme Committee for Strategic Co-operation. He noted that trade volume between the two countries increased to about $14bn in 2022 compared to about $11bn in 2021.
In terms of exports according to the main destination countries, he said South Korea ranked second with about 11.9% of the total value of Qatari exports, and liquefied natural gas (LNG) is considered the most important of these products. Qatar is also considered one of the most important importers of ships and LNG tankers manufactured by South Korean companies.
“The economic and trade aspect constituted the backbone of Qatari-Korean relations in the beginning, but in recent years they have begun to move toward a relationship that includes all fields, including culture, media, sports, healthcare, education, and smart farms.
“In the economic field itself, relations were almost limited to the field of energy, especially LNG, given that Qatar is one of the largest countries producing LNG and the biggest supplier of this substance to South Korea,” al-Hamar stressed.
Qatar-South Korea ties span about five decades and during this period both countries have achieved “great progress,” especially in the field of energy, al-Hamar pointed out, adding that Qatar exports more than 10mn tonnes of liquefied gas to South Korea, equivalent to 31% of the country’s need for natural gas.
According to al-Hamar, both countries signed the first agreement to sell LNG in 1995, and four years later the first shipment was delivered to South Korea. Since then, QatarEnergy has increased its shipments to South Korea to more than 9mn tonnes of LNG per year.
“As for Korean companies, they contributed greatly to construction work during the first oil boom in Qatar. In the field of shipbuilding, QatarEnergy signed, on June 1, 2020, an agreement with South Korean companies to build gas tankers, to expand its fleet of tankers in line with the increase in production in the North Field, and the value of the deal is about $19bn.
“It is worth noting that Qatar requested the construction of 73 gas tankers from 2001 to 2012, and Korean companies won all orders, which indicates the extent of Qatari confidence in Korean companies,” al-Hamar emphasised.
He added: “These and other agreements indicate the closeness of the relationship between the two countries, and also clarify Korea’s position as a strategic partner for Qatar, and open broader horizons in relations between the two countries.”
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