Economy, Business And Markets

South Korea Bank Opens Tehran Office

South Korea Bank  Opens Tehran Office South Korea Bank  Opens Tehran Office

The first South Korean bank inaugurated its representative office in Tehran at a ceremony held at the Central Bank of Iran on Monday.  

The launch of Woori Bank operations marks the first presence of a South Korean lender in Iran since 1962 when the two countries initiated diplomatic ties.  CBI website reported that Woori Bank had submitted its application for entry after the landmark nuclear agreement between Iran and the six world powers - known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) - came into force in January.

 “Iran and South Korea have a rich history and share cultural similarities and now that the burden of sanctions has eased, large strides should be taken for improving bilateral cooperation,” Gholam Ali Kamyab, CBI deputy for foreign exchange affairs, was quoted as saying at the event.

Considering the opening of Woori Bank representative office as a preamble for the official opening of the bank’s branch in Iran, he said “opening of representative office can be a powerful incentive for developing two-way banking relations, which will lead to the launching of Woori Bank’s local branch in Tehran.”

Highlighting CBI support for improving Iran-South Korea banking relations, he added that “enhancing bilateral cooperation is primary objective of the two countries as there is a strong will and desire for expanding bilateral trade; therefore, a good foundation for banking relations -- as an immediate need for trade ties -- should be created.”

Korean President Park Geun-hye arrived in Tehran on Sunday to foster political and economic relations.

She met her Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rouhani, on Monday in the first meeting between the presidents of the two countries since the establishment of diplomatic relations. Park also conferred with the Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei on Monday.

Despite close ties to the western powers, South Korea has tried to maintain normal diplomatic and economic ties to Tehran. Iran is its third-largest export market in the region.

  KDB Agreement

Along with the opening of the Woori Bank’s representative office, the state-run Korea Development Bank (KDB) signed a memorandum of cooperation with the CBI to both develop correspondent relations and pave the way for the expansion of bilateral trade and investment ties.

Referring to the visible improvement in relations with Asia, Kamyab said, “During the sanctions years we developed our trade relations with the East, which was a success and will continue in post-sanctions era.”

The head of KDB Bank, Lee Dong-geol, said “KDB Bank is ready for investment in and contribution to industrial development in Iran. Currently, we have correspondent banking relations with four Iranian banks and hope we can play a role in Iran’s economic and industrial development.” He did not name the four banks.

KDB will concentrate on establishing close ties with the CBI, and signing of the agreement is the beginning of our cooperation, he added.

The KDB also signed an agreement with Bank Mellat and the Industrial Development and Renovation Organization to promote financial cooperation and bilateral trade between the two nations.

Korea Development Bank was established in 1954. It became a leading financial institution in South Korea and now is the No.1 state-owned bank. As a leader in local corporate financing, KDB Bank is an important role-player of economic development and financial market of South Korea. The core business areas are corporate financing and restructuring, investment services, international and project financing and consulting.