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Korea, UAE ink $6.1b in business deals

Upon Yoon's state visit, 23 memorandums of understanding signed to boost mutual ties

Jan. 17, 2023 - 15:27 By Im Eun-byel

Samsung Electronics Executive Chairman Lee Jae-yong attends the UAE-Korea Business Forum held in Abu Dhabi of the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday. (Yonhap)

Upon Yoon's state visit, 23 memorandums of understanding signed to boost mutual ties

South Korea and the United Arab Emirates are to further strengthen ties for joint growth, agreeing to $6.1 billion worth of cooperation on energy, defense and new industry businesses, according to Seoul officials on Tuesday.

A total of 23 memorandums of understanding and a contract were signed between the two countries during a business forum held in Abu Dhabi on the sidelines of President Yoon Suk Yeol's state visit to the Middle Eastern nation.

The event was held to promote bilateral ties between the two countries, going into details on the levels of economic cooperation. Top governmental figures including South Korea's Finance Minister Choo Kyung-ho and Industry Minister Lee Chang-yang attended the event, along with business leaders including Samsung Electronics Executive Chairman Lee Jae-yong, SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won, Hyundai Motor Executive Chair Chung Euisun and others.

Tuesday’s new commitments came a day after the UAE pledged a separate $30 billion investment in Korea across sectors such as next-generation nuclear power, energy technologies and defense in Korea. The figure is the largest-ever cross-border investment made by the UAE, surpassing its previous record of $12.2 billion for the United Kingdom.

“I hope the UAE’s investment and Korea’s high-technology capability can create synergy, leading to outcomes in the global market,” Yoon said in a keynote speech at the event. “We will have to work on the engine for future growth through leading the digital transformation of manufacturing, mobility, aerospace, smart farms, materials and bio(technology).”

At the event, Samsung C&T Corp., the construction unit of Samsung Group, signed an agreement with UAE renewable energy firm Masdar on cooperation for hydrogen and new renewable energy, and a separate memorandum of understanding with Abu Dhabi National Energy Co. on cooperation for power transmission and gas power generation.

The Korea National Oil Corp. and Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. will also work together for joint production of low-carbon hydrogen and ammonia.

Medytox, a South Korean maker of botulinum toxin – often referred to by the brand name Botox -- seeks growth in the Middle East region as well. It will push for the launch of a botulinum toxin end-product factory in the UAE along with the Dubai Science Park. If proceeded, Medytox will be the first Korean firm to establish a botulinum toxin factory overseas.

Cloud service Megazone Cloud will work on introducing its integrated digital service in the Middle East region.

For the arms industry, Hyundai Heavy Industries Co., LIG Nex1 Co. and Ktech Co. signed two memorandums and one contract with the UAE, solidifying cooperation for defense between the two countries.

Backed by newly established and existing ties, the Korea International Trade Association said it will launch a committee to support cooperation for trade in energy, infrastructural, aerospace, future technology and health areas.

At the forum, 36 South Korean businesses with expertise spanning from nuclear power plants and energy to smart city, met with 106 UAE buyers. The ministry expects the meeting to generate $11 million in deals.

Furthermore, local startup Saefarm, which services crop cultivation solutions based on artificial intelligence analysis of satellite images, has decided to take part in Saudi Arabia’s Neom city project currently in the limelight, along with a UAE solar system firm.