His Highness the Premier's visit to S. Korea gives momentum to economic partnership

By Shaikha Alloughani

KUWAIT, May 7 (KUNA) — His Highness the Premier Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah will hold talks with South Korean leaders Sunday on the prospects of the special ties between the two countries, particularly in the economic, energy and investment fields.
His Highness the Premier, leading a senior-level delegation, starts an official visit to South Korea as part of a tour of four Asian countries including Bangladesh, Japan and Vietnam; the trip started with Bangladesh on Tuesday, May 3.
The bilateral trade volume between Kuwait and South Korea hit USD 20 billion last year with Kuwait’s exports to South Korea being mainly oil and oil by-products while its imports there from being electronic and electrical equipment, and cars.
South Korea is Kuwait’s largest trade partner and largest oil imports which amounted to over 400,000 barrels a day while it is the largest exporter to Kuwait, accounting for 70 percent of Kuwait’s imports in 2013-2014.
Since 1970s, the South Korean companies have been playing a growing role in the development of infrastructure projects in Kuwait, including the construction of highways, flyovers, power stations, hospitals and power plants.
The bilateral ties, particularly in the hydrocarbon sector, made a big stride in the last four years after a South Korean firm was awarded a USD 742 million-worth contract to build oil facilities at Burgan field.
In March, 2015, the Korea National Oil Corporation (KNOC) signed a MOU with the Kuwait Petroleum Corporation (KPC) in order to seek joint business opportunities in the oil and gas sector and encourage the interchange of relevant human resources, knowledge and information.
In March 2016, Representatives of the Kuwait National Petroleum Company (KNPC) and three South Korean companies, notably the Hyundai Engineering and Construction (HDEC) sealed a USD 2.93 billion contract for the construction of the largest Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) at Al-Zour area, west Kuwait.
South Korean firms are implementing Mubarak Container Harbor in Boubyan Island, consisting of 60 terminals and costing up to USD 1.13 billion.
They are also building Jaber Bridge, one of the world’s longest maritime bridges, costing over USD 2.5 billion.
In last March, the two countries started cooperation in the field of healthcare and opened the door for South Korean companies to modernize the public health system in Kuwait with a view to help patients receive healthcare at home in Kuwait.
In September, 2014, the then South Korean minister of land, infrastructure and transport visited Kuwait and signed MoU on cooperation in the areas of housing and infrastructure including the development of the Silk City project in Sabbiya area with a view to realizing the vision of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah for turning Kuwait into a financial and commercial hub.
In May, 2015, the two sides inked a MoU on cooperation in transport by virtue of which South Korean firms will take part in the implementation of subway project and the GCC railway project.
The two countries are committed to promotion of the friendly ties in the cultural, educational, scientific, information and youth and sports fields under an agreement signed in 1984.
Based on this agreement, Kuwait Embassy organized Kuwait Cultural Days in Seoul in mid-December, 2015.
Regarding the academic exchanges, dozens of Kuwaiti students pursue their higher education at South Korean universities while nearly one thousand South Korean students are studying Arabic at Kuwait University.
The political ties between the two countries have been growing steadily since the latter recognized Kuwait as an independent country in 1962 and sought to establish diplomatic relations with Kuwait in March, 1963; they established the diplomatic ties on the ambassadorial level in June, 1979.
During the Iraq invasion of Kuwait in 1990, South Korea was one of the first countries that stood by Kuwait in the face of the brutal invasion and contributed USD 500 million to the Kuwait liberation war.
As non-permanent member of the UN Security Council in 1996-1997, South Korea supported Kuwait’s quest for uncovering the fate of Kuwaiti prisoners of war and missing in action during the Iraqi invasion; it reiterated the call for Iraq to implement the relevant UNSC resolutions.
The 1,600 South Korean community in Kuwait, mainly skilled professionals and civil engineers, contribute to the comprehensive development of the oil-rich country. (end) sal.jk.gb

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