NATIONAL

Mexico-Korea commerce set for smooth sailing

By Joel Lee
  • Published : Sept 17, 2018 - 16:38
  • Updated : Sept 17, 2018 - 16:38

Despite no free trade agreement, Korea is Mexico’s sixth-largest trade partner, and the two economies had more than $15 billion of bilateral trade last year.

That is about to get an even further boost when they enter into a free trade agreement and Seoul joins the Pacific Alliance of Chile, Colombia, Peru and Mexico as an associate member state, according to Mexico’s top envoy to Korea.

“Last year was full of challenges, but also of unique opportunities. We have stood for the values that have given us strength -- supporting a rules-based international order, sustainable development and free trade. Many certainties have been shaken, but Korea and Mexico stand on the same side,” said Ambassador Bruno Figueroa Fischer on Friday at a reception in Seoul, which celebrated the 208th anniversary of Mexico’s independence.

“My government fully supports the Republic of Korea’s endeavors to achieve complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and establish a lasting peace.”

Mexican Ambassador to Korea Bruno Figueroa Fischer (left) raises his glass with Korean Deputy Minister for Public Diplomacy Park Sahng-hoon at a reception Friday. (Joel Lee/The Korea Herald)

Last year, the two nations’ foreign and finance ministers held consultations, and an interparliamentary dialogue took place in January with the visit of President of the Mexican Senate Ernesto Cordero to Korea, according to the career diplomat.

When two earthquakes shook Mexico’s central and southern regions last year, the Korean government, companies and civil society were among the first to offer aid in the form of millions of dollars, he said, thanking Korea for its quick and generous help.

Korea’s 911 Private Search and Rescue Team Association, whose officers were present at the reception, flew to Mexico City to save lives under collapsed buildings, he highlighted.

“In our 56 years of bilateral relations, our peoples have never been so close,” Figueroa Fischer said, adding direct flights four times a week between Incheon and Mexico City that began last year have boosted two-way tourism and people-to-people exchanges. “We expect more than 100,000 Korean tourists to Mexico this year, and more than 16,000 Mexican tourists to Korea.”

The embassy, working in partnership with local authorities, companies and a university, inaugurated the first Mexican Garden inside Suncheon Bay National Garden in South Jeolla Province in May.

“President-elect (Andres Manuel) Lopez Obrador, who will assume office in December, has committed the nation to economic stability and social justice,” he said. “For the first time in history, women make up half of our legislative body. This is concrete evidence of Mexico’s political maturity and gender equity, which are not easy to find around the world.”

Since establishing diplomatic ties in 1962, Mexico and Korea have enhanced cooperation in diverse fields, and reached a strategic partnership in 2005, Korea’s first with a Central or South American country, said Korean Deputy Minister for Public Diplomacy Park Sahng-hoon.

“Mexico, with its resplendent Mayan civilization, beautiful nature, passionate 120 million people and vast land, is Korea’s largest trading partner among Central and South American countries, also a key investment destination,” he said. “Our bilateral trade, given our complementary industrial structures and businesses offered, is expected to increase dramatically. Some 400 Korean enterprises currently operate in the Mexican market and contribute to the nation’s economic and social development as trustworthy partners.”

Park, also a career diplomat, said Mexico and Korea play important roles on the international stage as members of MIKTA, an informal alliance of middle powers Mexico, Indonesia, Korea, Turkey and Australia dedicated to improving international governance and solving regional and global challenges.

By Joel Lee (joel@heraldcorp.com)