Domestic Economy

S. Korea Agenda Open-Ended

Business & Markets Desk
S. Korea Agenda Open-Ended S. Korea Agenda Open-Ended

South Korea’s lack of oil, petrochemical and mining industries and Iran’s need for technical expertise would make the two countries complement each other, a senior South Korean Official said.

Executive Vice Chairman of Korea International Trade Association Junggwan Kim made the statement in an interview with Financial Tribune before his departure back home late Monday.  

“Once they explore the best of each other, they can set up stable and sustainable commercial partnerships and complement each other,” he said.

Junggwan, who led 250 delegates from 100 South Korean companies in their two-day visit to Iran, attended the South Korea-Iran Business Forum held in Tehran on February 29.

The forum was co-organized by KITA.

Junggwan likened the objectives Iran follows to those of South Korea’s after the Korean War (1950–53) and said, “We set our sights on becoming a developed nation and we managed to do so in 20 to 30 years. At first, we did not possess an indigenized technology but we embraced the help of foreign countries. Koreans attach great importance to learning and education. These two features helped us advance by the day.”

Asked about the areas of cooperation between the two countries, the Korean official said his country sees no limit to expansion of economic ties with Iran.

“All sectors, including construction, automotive, shipbuilding, information and communications technology, environment, health and culture, have potential for bilateral cooperation,” he said.

Commenting on Hyundai’s plans for Iran, Junggwan said, “As far as we know, Hyundai cars are hugely popular in the Middle East and the company is preparing to build a factory, either a production line or an assembly line, in this region. Iran is highly probable to become the auto giant’s preferable option, but the details of Hyundai’s strategy have not been revealed yet.”

Last week, Hyundai-Kia Automotive Group PR team’s general manager, Sohn Yong, was cited by KBS World Radio as saying that Iran’s population of 80 million and lack of cars have created business opportunities for automobile manufacturers.

“Iran is also very attractive for automobile companies, as it is the largest such market in the Middle East,” Sohn said.

Hyundai exported over 20,000 cars to Iran annually from 2009 to 2011, before sanctions against Iran in 2012 curbed sales.

On the biggest challenge facing South Korean companies that plan to forge ties with their Iranian counterparts, Junggwan said, “When you search for Iranian companies, the only information they have posted on the Internet is their names and addresses. On the contrary, Koreans provide comprehensive description of their companies, from the background of their businesses to the details of their projects to even other organizations and enterprises they do business with.”

The vice chairman of KITA noted that the office of the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (better known as KOTRA) in Tehran has been the focal point of assistance.

“They are constantly helping to make it possible for companies from the two countries to reap the benefits from the ever-expanding scope of economic cooperation,” he said.

Junggwan viewed the Iran trip by the businesspeople of his country as “short but significant” and said these days will be remembered in the economic history of the two sides.

The Korea International Trade Association was established in 1946 with the objective of advancing Korea’s economy through trade, and is currently its largest business association with over 71,000 member companies.

With an established network of 12 domestic offices and 10 overseas branches in major cities, KITA has consolidated its position as a leading business organization dedicated to assisting small- and medium-sized enterprises in gaining foreign market entry.

KITA has actively contributed to Korea’s recent achievement of $1 trillion in trade volume.