Negotiations are currently underway to conclude a free trade agreement (FTA) between South Korea and Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) countries, including Qatar, an official of the East Asian country’s Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy has said.
“The ‘Korea-GCC FTA’, which will be South Korea’s first FTA with an Arab country, is expected to be an important opportunity to expand bilateral trade and strengthen co-operation.
“We request Qatar to exert an active leadership role in advancing the Korea-GCC FTA negotiations based on its open free trade policy and rich negotiation experience,” Kwon Hyun-chul, Director of the Middle East and African Trade Division, told Gulf Times in an exclusive interview.
Aside from trade, Kwon said the ‘South Korea-Qatar High-level Strategic Co-operation Committee,’ a regular consultation body between the Ministers of Industry and Trade of both countries, has played a crucial role in consolidating co-operation on energy and construction infrastructure and expanding co-operation into diverse areas, such as education, healthcare, culture, and sports.
According to Kwon, the sixth session of the Joint Supreme Committee for Strategic Co-operation was recently held in Seoul on June 15.
“Nine South Korean ministries, including the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy; Ministry of Science and ICT, and Ministry of Health and Welfare, participated in the council, and 13 Qatari ministries and agencies, including the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MoCI); Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT), Ministry of Public Health (MoPH), and the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) engaged in in-depth discussions on strengthening future co-operation in diverse areas, such as energy, agriculture, aviation, maritime, culture, education, health, and advanced technology, and signed MoUs on investment, intellectual property, and smart farms under the supervision of both countries’ ministers of industry and trade,” Kwon explained.
He said the agreements signed during the sixth session of the Joint Supreme Committee for Strategic Co-operation include MoUs between Investment Promotion Agency Qatar (IPA Qatar) and Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA) on regulation, business information, development plan sharing, and B2B events (business matching) support; Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO) and MoCI on Intellectual Property sector human resource development and co-operation, such as education programmes; and Nexton and IPA Qatar on co-operation for entry into Qatar’s local smart farm business.
Kwon added: “Following QIA’s participation in the sixth session of the Joint Supreme Committee for Strategic Co-operation, we look forward to expanding bilateral industrial co-operation to investment co-operation that creates investment opportunities in new industries.
“The high-level committee between South Korea and Qatar will be a channel for discussing co-operation in promising areas for the future, not only to expand trade and investment but also to strengthen the sustainability of the bilateral partnership.”