Economy, Business And Markets

S. Korea Revs Up Efforts to Restore Economic Ties

S. Korea Revs Up Efforts to Restore Economic TiesS. Korea Revs Up Efforts to Restore Economic Ties

Seoul is revving up efforts to restore economic ties with Iran, as the resource-rich Middle East state is generating fresh business opportunities after the lifting of sanctions earlier this year, the South Korean ambassador in Tehran said on Wednesday.

Kim Seung-ho added that South Korean government officials and businesses are striving to regain some of the lost ground in the increasingly competitive Iranian market with a population of 80 million, Yonhap news agency reported.

“International attention is focused on Iran, as it boasts rich resources and a large population. Thus, many countries are scrambling to gain the upper-hand in the market after the sanctions were scrapped,” he said.

“The Korean government and businesses are also striving to restore ties with Iran with a sense of crisis and anxiety, as competition heats up to capitalize on the business opportunities in Iran.”

The lobbies of major hotels in Tehran are crowded with foreign tourists, with exhibition centers brimming with businessmen scurrying to court their Iranian partners, Kim added, noting the country’s transition into a highly lucrative business destination.

As China, Japan, Russia, Germany and other countries have beefed up diplomacy with Iran to advance their economic interests, South Korea has also made a flurry of diplomatic efforts to enhance bilateral cooperation.

South Korea’s top diplomat, Yun Byung-se, visited the country in November for the first time in 14 years as a foreign minister. Less than three months later, Trade Minister Joo Hyung-hwan also visited Tehran with a large business delegation.

“The two countries are also in talks over President Park Geun-hye’s trip to Iran,” Kim said. He did not elaborate on when Park will travel to the country.

As Seoul had participated in the international anti-Tehran sanctions over the country’s nuclear program, the trade volume between South Korea and Iran dipped to $8.6 billion in 2014, less than half the trade volume recorded in 2011.

Touching on Iran’s deep historical and cultural background, the ambassador highlighted the importance of developing a “multifaceted” bilateral relationship, rather than focusing wholly on the economic dimension.

“Rather than pursuing a unitary business-centric partnership, I think developing the various facets of our partnership is important given that Iran has great potential in terms of human resources, and its cultural and historical assets,” he said.