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Pres. Moon and Emir Sheikh Tamim Summit in Seoul: S. Korea and Qatar Agreed to Expand Bilateral Trade and Economic Cooperation
President Moon Jae-in (right) held a summit with Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani in Seoul on Jan. 28, 2019, for strengthening bilateral ties, with this year marking the 45th anniversary of diplomatic relations between both countries. The two leaders agreed to expand economic cooperation from their traditional areas of energy and construction to a wider range of fields. President Moon expressed hope for bilateral energy trade to lead to joint projects in new industries such as the smart grid. After the summit, both sides signed seven memorandums of understanding on smart farms, land transportation, aquaculture, licensing of marine officers, training programs, smart grid technology and port management.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani discussed ways to expand economic ties and promote bilateral cooperation in their Summit on Jan. 28, 2019, in Seoul. According to the Cheong Wa Dae, as part of his first summit diplomacy in the new year, President Moon met the Emir, who arrived in Seoul on January 27 for his two-day official visit. Emir Emir Sheikh Tamim is the head of state of Qatar.
During the Summit, the two leaders discussed means to enhance cooperation and friendly relations between the two countries in various fields, especially in energy, economy, investment, health, agriculture, education and technology, as well as cooperation in the military field. The talks also dealt with the regional and international issues.
The two leaders discussed ways to help South Korean companies expand forays into various fields in the Gulf state, including transportation and infrastructure, from the current energy and construction-focused sectors. Qatar is South Korea's largest supplier of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and sixth-largest supplier of oil.
Korea and Qatar established diplomatic ties in 1974. They were upgraded to a comprehensive partner-ship in 2007. Moon highlighted the two nations' friendly ties and deepened economic cooperation that has helped boost two-way trade volume to US$17 billion.
Leaders of South Korea and Qatar agreed to expand bilateral trade and economic cooperation at the summit. President Moon and his Qatari counter-part Emir Sheikh Tamim agreed to boost bilateral cooperation in areas of smart farming, smart grid, education and training, according to Cheong Wa Dae.
The visit came as South Korean shipbuilders are bidding to win contracts for building liquefied natural gas (LNG) carriers from Qatar Petroleum (QP). QP is a state-owned oil company in Qatar, which recently decided to expand its fleet by up to 60 LNG carriers. The two countries also agreed to acknowledge each other's marine technician license, paving the way for South Korean experts to be employed by Qatari shipping companies.
President Moon said, "Many Korean corporations are participating in Qatar's infrastructure construction and other economic projects. Meanwhile, Korea is largely dependent on Qatar for LNG imports." He also expressed hope for bilateral energy trade to lead to joint projects in new industries such as the smart grid.
"Given the geopolitical locations, both Qatar and South Korea are ideally positioned to expand bilateral tie-ups in shipping and shipbuilding. As the global shipbuilding and shipping industries are putting more focus on eco-friendly vessels, if Qatar replaces its outdated vessels with those powered by LNG, then the global demand for LNG ships will also rise," said Moon.
"Given South Korea's proven track record in winning orders for value-added vessels and delivering them on time, chances are very high South Korean shipbuilders would be considered the most-preferred candidates to win the upcoming new ship orders," said Presidential Spokesman Kim.
Moon stressed friendly relations between South Korea and Qatar and welcomed the idea of enhancing the volume of bilateral trade exchanges. "The countries have much potential to enhance cooperation in various areas. I hope that your official visit can upgrade the two nations' relationship and pave the way for expanding cooperation on the global stage," he said.
For his part, the Emir thanked President Moon for the warm welcome and hospitality. According to the Emir, it was his fourth official visit to Korea, affirming the relations between the two countries are strong. The Emir also expressed hope to develop these relations, especially with the growing favorable opportunities between the two countries.
"The countries have much potential to enhance cooperation in various areas. I hope that your official visit can upgrade the two nations' relationship and pave the way for expanding cooperation on the global stage," Moon said.
In this context, the President thanked the Emir for Qatar's support of the inter-Korean peace process and for its stance in resolving the Gulf dispute through dialogue. For his part, the Emir noted that the direct dialogue, especially between the two Koreas, is the best way to resolve all disputes.
After the summit, both sides signed seven memorandums of understanding on smart farms, land transportation, aquaculture, licensing of marine officers, training programs, smart grid technology and port management.
For example, Emir Sheikh Tamim and President Moon witnessed the signing of a number of memorandums of understanding (MOU) between the two countries. They witnessed the signing of the MOU in the smart agriculture field between the Ministry of Municipality and Environment of Qatar and the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs of Korea, aimed to develop the smart agriculture industry, cooperate in the field of agricultural research, transfer technology, and develop eco-friendly farming technology.
They also witnessed the signing of the MOU for bilateral cooperation in the land transport sector between the Ministry of Transport and Communications of Qatar and the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport of Korea, as well as the MOU on fisheries and aquaculture cooperation between the Ministry of Municipalities and the Environment of Qatar and the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries of Korea to enhance the scientific and industrial cooperation in fisheries and aquaculture field.
In addition to the Summit, the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries (MOF) said that it has clinched an agreement with its Qatari counterpart to forge deeper ties in maritime affairs, including the fishery and aquaculture industries. The agreement is in line with Korea and Qatar's summit in Seoul aimed at expanding economic ties and promoting bilateral cooperation.
The MOF said the two countries agreed to work closely as Qatar currently plans to ease its dependency on foreign countries for its food supply. Accordingly, the two will exchange related techno-logies and carry out joint research projects.
Qatar operates 50 LNG carriers. The majority of these vessels were built and delivered by Korea's top-three ship-builders including Hyundai Heavy and Samsung Heavy. According to the MOF, it has clinched an agreement with its Qatari counterpart to forge deeper ties in maritime affairs, including the fishery and aquaculture industries.
According to the MOF, the two countries agreed to work closely as Qatar currently plans to ease its dependency on foreign countries for its food supply. Accordingly, the two will exchange related technologies and carry out joint research projects. The two countries also agreed to acknowledge each other's marine technician license, paving the way for South Korean experts to get employed by Qatari shipping companies.
South Korea's Busan Port Authority and Mwani Qatar, which is responsible for the management of Qatari ports, agreed to exchange information on the running of ports as well. The ministry added the agreement will help local companies expand their presence in the Qatari market.
"Although the exchanges in the maritime industry are in the early stages compared with traditional areas like energy and construction, we plan to promptly roll out follow-up measures to help competitive South Korean firms and experts set eyes on the overseas markets," Ocean Minister Kim Young-choon said.
The MOU calls for the two sides to cooperate on combating cross-border organized crime and illicit trafficking of narcotics and weapons, as well as on the training of workers and implementation of e-customs services, according to the Korea Customs Service.
To support Qatar's hosting of the 2022 FIFA World Cup soccer finals, the first time the competi-tion will be held in the Middle East, more joint projects in transportation will be launched. Korea will also take part in projects under the Qatar National Vision 2030 and plan collaboration in other sectors such as health care, agriculture, fisheries, education and securities.
In this regard, President Moon also noted his country's experience in the organization of international sports events, referring to its success in organizing the 2002 World Cup and the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games. He also expressed Korea's willingness to provide help and share its experience with Qatar in organizing the 2022 World Cup.
The Emir was welcomed upon arrival at Seoul Air Base by South Korea's Minister of Oceans and Fisheries Kim Young-choon, Qatar's ambassador to South Korea Mohamed Abdullah al-Duhaimi and the South Korean ambassador to Qatar Kim Chang-mo.
Earlier, in a statement to Gulf Times, Amb. Kim said that South Korean companies, which played a significant role in the completion of Hamad Port, are looking to participate in the next development phase of Qatar's 25.8km2 main seaport. He was commenting specifically on future co-operation between South Korea and Qatar, in the wake of the Amir's three-nation Asian tour that also includes Japan and China.
"South Korean companies contributed a lot to the early inauguration of the Hamad Port by successfully completing their role in the port development project. We expect Korean companies will be able to participate in the third phase of Hamad Port's development, which is now being planned, utilizing their accumulated expertise and experience," said Amb. Kim.
"Our two countries have many things in common. For example, we are penin-sulas surrounded by big powers, we achieved rapid economic development in relatively short period of time with the concerted efforts of the people, and we stress the importance of education," he noted. "As such, I feel there are great potentials for our two countries to further strengthen and expand our bilateral co-operation in various areas."
According to Amb. Kim, through such exchanges of visits by the heads of states a couple of years ago, there is already a strong basis of co-operation in various areas. Qatar and South Korea have also adopted several memorandums of understanding to strengthen co-operation in areas such as information and communications technology, technology and innovation, healthcare and medical sciences, joint investment co-operation in third countries, co-operation between the Bank of Korea and Qatar Central Bank, tourism, education and youth affairs.
"Based on those achievements, our two sides will look for possibilities of further concrete and fruitful outcomes of the visit," the envoy stressed.
Similarly, Qatar and South Korea have had a series of co-operation activities in the fields of public health and the medical industry, which could be further expanded. Since 2016, our two countries have co-hosted a bilateral medical forum for the purpose of sharing medical information and related experiences. We have the potential to further expand our co-operation in the areas of medical treatment, patient care, healthcare, and insurance program, among others.★