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Yoon calls for 'innovative approach' to make best of $30b UAE investment

Consultative bodies to be set up across government offices to speed up bilateral talks, follow-up measures

By Park Han-na

Published : Jan. 31, 2023 - 16:03

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President Yoon Suk Yeol speaks during a meeting on investment from the United Arab Emirates at the Korea International Trade Association in Gangnam-gu, Seoul, on Tuesday. (Yonhap) President Yoon Suk Yeol speaks during a meeting on investment from the United Arab Emirates at the Korea International Trade Association in Gangnam-gu, Seoul, on Tuesday. (Yonhap)

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol vowed Tuesday to make good of the United Arab Emirates' $30 billion investment pledge with two new consultative bodies, and called on the public and private sector to come up with mutually beneficial, innovative partnership projects.

Stressing that the UAE’s decision for the investment was based on trust in Korea, the president said the country should “respond by discovering innovative investment partnership projects that serve the interests of both countries.”

Yoon made the remark while presiding over a meeting with economy-related ministers and public and private company chiefs to discuss ways to execute the massive investment, which UAE President Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan announced during their summit in Abu Dhabi on Jan. 19.

The investment was agreed upon by the two leaders and specified in the joint statement, but details including the areas that the money will be funneled, project period and methods need further consultation.

Calling the investment which will be led by UAE sovereign wealth funds “an effective agreement that can be swiftly implemented,” Yoon said the government will launch investment cooperation platforms involving public and private entities from the two countries.

The Korea-UAE investment cooperation platforms consist of the UAE Investment Cooperation Committee and the UAE Investment Cooperation Network. The two consultative bodies will start running from February.

Deputy Prime Minister Choo Kyung-ho will chair the investment cooperation committee to focus on policy responses to promote UAE investment in Korea along with other ministers.

The UAE Investment Cooperation Network will be led by the private sector with the purpose of providing support tailored to the UAE's investment needs, together with the related financial and industrial entities including the state-run Korea Development Bank.

“I have always emphasized the need to overcome economic crises and challenges through exports ... Businesses and governments must unite as one team to compete in this economic warfare,” Yoon said.

The agenda of the meeting was divided into three areas: investment and finance, energy and defense as well as new industries. Participants from companies and associations shared the progress of cooperation they made with their respective UAE counterparts after visiting the Middle Eastern country.

In addition to the $30 billion investment, UAE companies signed a total of 48 memorandums of understanding during Yoon’s state visit -- 24 by private companies and the rest by the government and public sector, which would amount to $6.1 billion.

A high-level dialogue between the Korean deputy prime minister and his counterpart, Khaldoon Khalifa Al-Mubarak, chairman of the Executive Affairs Authority of Abu Dhabi, is planned to be held in the first half of this year. In the second half, an investor relations event for UAE sovereign wealth funds is planned to be held in Abu Dhabi.