Korea calls for ease of doing business in SA
2 October 2019
This year marks Korea’s 4,352nd anniversary since its national foundation, and the 71st anniversary of its Armed Forces Day. In South Africa Ambassador Jong-Dae Park hosted a reception to celebrate these events.
Photo: Mr Jong-Dae Park, Ambassador of the Republic of Korea with Mr Fish Amos Mahlaleia, Deputy Minister of Tourism
“Taking this opportunity, I would also like to ask the South African government to consider and offer best solutions to facilitate Korea’s and all other foreign countries’ business in terms of assuring their security and easing issuance of visas, so that they can contribute to economic growth and employment in South Africa in a win-win manner,” a call from Ambassador Park.
Speaking about South Africa’s upcoming Investment Summit Ambassador Park said that there are over 30 Korean companies in South Africa, with investments in the automotive, manufacturing, ICT, energy, construction, cosmetics and the shipping sectors, among others. “Many of our companies will participate in the upcoming South Africa Investment Conference next month. We are counting on South Africa to be not only an important market and economic partner in itself, but to also serve as a hub and springboard for the rest of the African continent. Be mindful that the African Continental Free Trade Agreement is now in effect and undergoing its implementation stage.”
Remarks by Ambassador Jong-Dae Park (abridged)
We are gathered here to mark Korea’s 4,352nd anniversary since its national foundation, and the 71st anniversary of Armed Forces Day.
It is my great pleasure to witness that Korea-South Africa ties are reaching new heights. On Dec. 1, 2018, on the occasion of the G20 Summit in Argentina, Korea’s President, His Excellency Moon Jae-In and His Excellency President Cyril Ramaphosa held a bilateral meeting for the first time. Following this summit meeting, in July this year, Korea’s foreign minister Dr. Kang Kyung-wha visited South Africa as part of her tour of three African countries, including Ethiopia and Ghana. It has been 13 years since our foreign minister, who was Mr. Ban-Ki Moon at the time, last visited South Africa on an official visit. Minister Kang Kyung-Wha and Minister Naledi Pandor discussed ways to enhance bilateral cooperation in the fields of skills development, education, cultural exchanges, visa issues and other sectoral fields. As agreed upon by the two ministers, a ministerial-level Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) meeting between the two countries is expected to be held in the early months of next year in Seoul, Korea, paving the way to further enhance our relations.
Last August, Korea’s Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, Hon. LEE Ju-Young, paid an official visit to South Africa and met Minister Pandor, Minister in the Presidency, Jackson Mthembu, and the Black Business Council. Hon. Lee also visited the Pan-African Parliament. The Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga visited Korea last month to attend the 10th IBRO World Congress of Neuroscience in Daegu. The Minister of Police Bheki Cele was last year in Korea to take part in an event hosted by our minister of home affairs. About 2 weeks ago, I was very pleased to meet South Africa’s ambassador-designate to Korea, Zenani Mandela-Dlamini, who left for Seoul yesterday. I admire her passion to serve as South Africa’s ambassador to Korea.
Another meaningful development that will help further strengthen our relations is Korea’s entry into the Indian Ocean Rim Association as a dialogue partner last year. We look forward to collaborating meaningfully with South Africa in the promotion of the Blue Economy and other agendas. Regarding public diplomacy, our embassy is engaged very actively with think tanks, academia, NGOs as well as the local diplomatic community. I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone concerned for being such good friends and partners of ours. Last Saturday, we had the honour of hosting at our embassy a very special IDSA (International Diplomatic Spouses Association in South Africa) fashion show and cultural event. The Korean embassy is very proud to host very successful events, which include K-pop contests, a Korean film and food festival (Pretoria, Oct, 19), Korean movie nights, a Korean Culture Day in Cape Town etc.
Regarding trade and investment, last year, our bilateral trade volumes reached 4.4 billion US dollars, which is far below our potential but encouraging since it represents a significant increase since the previous year. South Africa remains Korea’s largest trading partner in Africa, while Korea is South Africa’s fourth largest trading partner in Asia. By the way, Korea is the world’s 6th largest exporting nations, having exported over 600 billion dollars’ worth of goods in 2018. Last year, Korea joined the ‘30-50 club,’ to become only the 7th country to join this select group of countries having a nominal per capital GDP of over 30,000 US dollars and a population of over 50 million people.
There are over 30 Korean companies in South Africa, with investments in the automotive, manufacturing, ICT, energy, construction, cosmetics and the shipping sectors, among others. In South Africa, we have globally branded companies like Samsung, LG, Hyundai, Kia, Daewoo, and POSCO, to mention a few. Many of our companies will participate in the upcoming South Africa Investment Conference next month. We are counting on South Africa to be not only an important market and economic partner in itself, but to also serve as a hub and springboard for the rest of the African continent. Be mindful that the African Continental Free Trade Agreement is now in effect and undergoing its implementation stage.
Taking this opportunity, I would also like to ask the South African government to consider and offer best solutions to facilitate Korea’s and all other foreign countries’ business in terms of assuring their security and easing issuance of visas, so that they can contribute to economic growth and employment in South Africa in a win-win manner.
We appreciate South Africa’s support for the denuclearization and peace process on the Korean Peninsula. Recently, on 24 September, at the UN General Assembly, President MOON Jae-in proposed the idea of transforming the Demilitarized Zone that cuts across the middle of the Korean Peninsula, into an international peace zone. We are counting on South Africa to continue supporting Korea’s various initiatives to realize peace, such as this one.
Today, as we also mark the Korea’s National Armed Forces Day, I would like to not only pay respect to Korea’s armed forces, but also to remind everyone that we are forever indebted to all the nations that came to our aid to defend freedom and democracy during the Korean War. May I express my deepest appreciation to all South African’s veterans and their families who made so much sacrifices in helping our nation. Colonel Dirk Louw, President of the South African Korean War Veterans Association, has continued to work very closely with our embassy and I thank you for your tireless dedication.
The Korean government, companies, and Korean nationals working in South Africa appreciate the South African governments and South Africans’ hospitality and friendship and they would like to see our bonds continue to strengthen. In the context of ODA assistance, my government is currently undertaking a mind-set change with a rural development program in South Africa, run jointly with the Ministry of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development. In the field of education, this year, we will provide 12 schools in Gauteng Province with donations of thousands of desks and chairs. While Korean volunteer teachers are assisting South African learners with maths, science and ICT, there are also many South Africans English teachers working in Korea.
Lastly, I want to acknowledge the Korean community in South Africa which numbers around 4 thousand, the largest Korean community in African, for playing an exemplary role in their jobs and daily life.
Now, let me propose a toast for the continued good health of His Excellency President Ramaphosa, the prosperity of the South African people and to a strong partnership between Korea and South Africa. Cheers!