El Salvador’s Ambassador to South Korea Jaime Jose Lopez Badia speaks to The Korea Herald at the Embassy of El Salvador residence in Jung-gu, Seoul, on April 25. (Sanjay Kumar/The Korea Herald)
Korean expertise is essential to achieve and accelerate logistics transformation in El Salvador, the country’s top envoy to Korea said during an interview with The Korea Herald.
The Central American country’s infrastructure drive presents opportunities for Korean companies to participate in planning, construction and operations, said El Salvador‘s Ambassador to South Korea, Jaime Jose Lopez Badia.
According to Lopez, the increase of Korean foreign direct investment in El Salvador in recent years is also remarkable in terms of its contribution to the national economy. By the end of 2021, the Central Reserve Bank reported an increase of 4 percent in comparison to the previous year, generating about 7,500 jobs. Salvadoran exports to South Korea reached a record high in 2021, increasing by 35 percent compared to 2020.
“El Salvador must take advantage of these potential opportunities and overcome different challenges to achieve better results regarding the Free Trade Agreement with Korea,” Lopez said.
El Salvador’s Ambassador to South Korea Jaime Jose Lopez Badia discusses the “Bitcoin City” project during an interview with The Korea Herald. (Sanjay Kumar/The Korea Herald)
The ambassador underlined El Salvador’s comprehensive ecosystem for bitcoin and the blockchain industry.
“The Korean private sector can achieve common benefits by participating in one of the most dynamic and innovative areas of the national economy, generated by the adoption of bitcoin as legal tender,” he stressed.
According to Lopez, legalization of cryptocurrency leads to development of many state modernization projects, including El Salvador’s energy matrix transformation and decentralization of industrial and digital development as part of the “Bitcoin City” project.
“Our government has created a comprehensive ecosystem around bitcoin that benefits private entities and the Salvadoran population,” he said.
A logo commemorating the 60th anniversary of El Salvador-South Korea diplomatic relations (Embassy of El Salvador in Seoul)
Lopez said that El Salvador would continue to promote opportunities with the Global Knowledge Exchange and Development Center in Seoul. The GKEDC is a research and academic facility to showcase South Korea’s economic development and share its development experience with others, run by South Korea’s Ministry of Economy and Finance.
El Salvador recently held a high-level conference between the Minister of Economy of El Salvador and Korean companies related to blockchain and cryptocurrencies, who are interested in investing and establishing representative offices in El Salvador.
The envoy sees Korea’s historic transformation as a global benchmark for development as the tenth largest economy in the world and one of the main donors to Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
A high level visit to Korea related to strategic projects in El Salvador (Embassy of El Salvador in Seoul)
El Salvador has been strengthening its infrastructure and national industry, implementing strategic projects and opening new sectors since 2019. Lopez applauded Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele’s administration in this regard.
El Salvador’s Central Reserve Bank reported gross domestic product growth of 10.3 percent at the end of 2021, positioning it among the top five Latin American nations in terms of economic growth, Lopez said.
Economic performance and openness, national development strategies and the government’s social investments have improved El Salvador’s business environment, the ambassador said. According to the ambassador,these factors have generated new investment opportunities and are attracting Korean companies’ interest in priority infrastructure projects such as: Ports of Acajutla and La Union; La Union repair shipyard; Pacific airport and train; and renewable energy projects.
With implementation of projects that promote a mutually beneficial relationship between El Salvador and South Korea’s private sector, the Salvadoran government will create a regional logistics hub, enhance connectivity, implement new technologies, build smart cities and promote tourism, according to ambassador.
El Salvador and Korea are systematically exploring new opportunities to increase businesses, investments, collaboration and exchanges based on shared values prioritizing the common good, solidarity and mutual understanding after 60 years of diplomatic relations, Lopez said.
Lopez outlined areas of mutual interest such as technological innovation, ports, airports and energy infrastructure projects, as well as promoting technical exchanges in terms of urban territorial planning, environmental sustainability and digitalization of public services. Lopez said that El Salvador and South Korea have worked to strengthen national technological and research capacities to guarantee food security; and sustainability of ecosystems and use of natural resources. The two countries have also worked on digital governance and support for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, as well as for health, education, security and culture.
The ambassador pointed to Korea as a reference point for applied health technology. The two countries have mainstreamed bilateral and multilateral cooperation on health, safety, technology, the environment and sustainable development, he said.
The year 2022 is a milestone for El Salvador to outline the future direction of greater South Korean presence in the country and implement complementary initiatives.
“El Salvador will remain committed to ensuring tangible, sustainable and substantial achievements over the next 60 years of diplomatic relations,” the ambassador said.This interview is a part of The Korea Herald’s interviews commemorating 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between of Korea and 13 Latin American countries with embassies in Seoul. -- Ed