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S. Korea, Uzbekistan strike deal on outstanding payment in gas project

Sept. 8, 2023 - 10:06 By Yonhap
Finance Minister Choo Kyung-ho speaks during a bilateral meeting with his Uzbek counterpart in Tashkent on Thursday. (Yonhap)

South Korea's finance ministry said Friday it has reached an agreement with Uzbekistan to settle an outstanding payment of around $1 billion involving a joint gas project.

The agreement was reached during Finance Minister Choo Kyung-ho's visit to the Central Asian nation, where he held a bilateral meeting with his Uzbek counterpart, according to the Ministry of Economy and Finance.

South Korea and Uzbekistan launched a gas project in 2008 with a joint venture named Uz-Kor Gas Chemical, which started production in 2016.

The recent settlement centered around the unpaid dues of a subsidiary belonging to Uzbekistan's state-owned gas company, which had procured gas from the joint venture but encountered payment delays due to foreign exchange issues.

The finance ministry did not provide further details of the agreement.

During the bilateral meeting, Choo expressed hope for bolstering bilateral economic ties to address growing uncertainties.

"As the global economy undergoes rapid changes in the midst of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, supply chain reconfigurations and the hastening of the energy transition, the two nations need to seek new opportunities for mutually beneficial growth," Choo said.

The finance minister noted that by leveraging South Korea's advanced technologies and Uzbekistan's abundant natural resources, the two countries can enhance their competitiveness within the global value chain, particularly in cutting-edge sectors.

"South Korea and Uzbekistan both considered vitalizing exports as a key economic goal," Choo said, pointing out that Asia's No. 4 economy has been making efforts to diversify its trade portfolio.

The combined amount of trade between South Korea and Uzbekistan came to $2.21 billion in 2022, soaring from just $3 million tallied in 1992.

During the visit, Choo also paid a courtesy call on Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, where he discussed measures to expand bilateral ties in the supply chain and emerging industries.

Choo also asked for Uzbekistan's support for South Korea's bid to host the 2030 World Expo in its southeastern city of Busan. (Yonhap)