Economy, Domestic Economy

South Korea Outlines Iran Trip Accomplishments

South Korea Outlines Iran Trip Accomplishments South Korea Outlines Iran Trip Accomplishments

President Park Geun-hye arrived in Seoul on Wednesday after a landmark state visit to Tehran focused on boosting bilateral economic cooperation.

The visit–the first by a South Korean president in more than half a century–represented South Korea’s efforts to tap into business opportunities in Iran.

“I believe Iran can become a land of opportunity for many South Korean firms,” Park told reporters on a plane back to Seoul.

“I will make efforts to create the second Middle East boom,” she was quoted by The Korea Times as saying.

During her visit, the two countries signed dozens of preliminary deals that could lead to contracts worth tens of billions of dollars. Seoul hopes the signed memoranda of understanding could pave the way for South Korean companies to eventually win massive infrastructure projects underway in Iran.

South Korea’s presidential office has described the MoUs as the “biggest-ever economic accomplishment”.

The Korea Electric Power Corporation opened an office in Tehran on Tuesday with a visit by Kepco CEO Cho Hwan-eik, one of the 236 delegates on the mission.

Kepco signed 10 business agreements, including four major electricity infrastructure projects, with Iranian counterparts such as the Iran Power Generation and Transmission Company.

One of the four major projects is to expand the capacity of Iran’s electrical grid to 765 kilovolts. If Iran decides to install the new network, Kepco will participate in a $5 billion extra-high-voltage electrical grid construction project.

Another major project is the introduction of an advanced metering infrastructure, which enables users real-time monitoring of electricity use.

The Korea Shipowners’ Association and Shipping Association of Iran signed a memorandum of understanding to form a task force to expand direct shipping lines between Asia and the Middle East. Member companies of the associations will form an alliance.

“We expect the transport of goods between Korea and Iran to rapidly increase,” the Korean association said in a statement on Tuesday.

Incheon International Airport signed a memorandum of understanding with Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport on Tuesday. The two are expected to send delegations on a regular basis to share information on airport operations, aircraft management, development of surrounding infrastructure and co-marketing projects.

Mahmoud Navidi, managing director of Imam Khomeini Airport City Company, will visit South Korea early next month to discuss detailed terms.

Woori Bank launched a Tehran office on Monday. It is the first Korean bank to set up its office in Iran. After economic sanctions on Iran were lifted in January, Woori Bank sent experts to research the Iranian market and attained approval from the Central Bank of Iran on April 12 to open an office in Tehran.

The Tehran office is not capable of banking operations. The office will collect market information and connect already established branches of Woori Bank in the Middle East in Dubai, the UAE, and Bahrain.

The bank also signed a business partnership with Pasargad, the second-largest bank in Iran, to boost Korea-Iran trade, share information about local markets and provide financial services.

Last but not least, the Islamic Republic of Iran Railways signed a memorandum of understanding with Hyundai Rotem on May 3 for the supply of 150 diesel multiple-unit cars worth $260 million. The contract is expected to be signed in late July, and the DMUs are to be used on routes covering 960 km, the Railway Gazette reported.

Park’s approval rating moved up on the back of public support for her historic visit to Iran, a poll showed on Thursday.

The poll released by local pollster Realmeter showed 35.6% approval of the job Park is doing, up 4.6 percentage points from a week earlier, Yonhap news agency reported.