South Korean Ambassador Chung Keejong said Qatar and Korea have diverse opportunities to explore in the future. PICTURE: Nasser TK

By Peter Alagos/Business Reporter

Korean Ambassador Chung Keejong said he is optimistic that trade volume between Qatar and South Korea would reach $30bn this year citing “plenty of opportunities” in new economic areas, including the Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) sector.

The ambassador told Gulf Times that his forecast is backed by South Korea’s recent implementation of new economic growth engines that specifically underscores the role of the SME sector, which could complement Qatar’s diversification from the hydrocarbon industry.

“Qatar’s development of its small and medium enterprises sector is vital to achieve these goals towards economic diversification, including the development of programmes and policies that support the growth of SMEs,” he said during the 2014 Korea-Qatar Business Networking Meeting with the Qatar Chamber held yesterday at the St Regis Hotel Doha.

He added, “These are expected to be strong catalysts for Qatar’s economy, making it an attractive venue to pursue business opportunities.”

During the meeting, counsellor Kim Donggi of the Korean embassy reported that bilateral trade increased by almost 25% from 2011, touching $26.72bn in 2013 making Korea as Qatar’s second largest trade partner.

Kim noted that bilateral relations improved since both countries look toward economic diversification, including components for green growth and the development of human capital.

He also highlighted current economic relations, citing Qatar as a committed partner for Korea’s energy security. In 2013, Qatar was the largest liquefied natural gas (LNG) supplier to Korea (13mn tonnes) and the fifth largest supplier of oil to the country (86mn barrels).

Last year, Korea had also played a significant role in supporting the country’s energy sector with a significant number of Korean contractors participating in energy projects, including 22 construction sites across Qatar.

According to Kim, new economic co-operation areas are being explored by the two countries in the manufacturing, education, banking, Information Technology (IT), services, and medical sectors.

With Qatar engaging the non-hydrocarbon sector, Kim stressed on the possibility of forging partnerships with Korean SMEs, which he added, could bring their experiences and technical expertise to the country.

He emphasised that there is a need to encourage reciprocal bilateral economic relations: “Both countries can become partners to jointly explore new growth engines to achieve economic diversification.”

“These could be achieved through increased dialogue between officials and members of the business community from both countries,” he added.

In a speech, QC vice-chairman Mohamed bin Towar al-Kuwari said, “We are keen to see Koreans taking part in Qatar’s mega projects…Qatari businessmen are interested in exploring investment opportunities in your country in all sectors.”



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