South Korean Trade Minister Paik Un-gyu held talks with a number of Saudi ministers on Monday to give impetus to the bilateral cooperation between the two countries in various field including nuclear energy.
Speaking to Arab News, Korean Ambassador Kwon Pyung-oh said the two countries have worked very closely in various fields. The Korean minister met Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih, Minister of Commerce and Investment Majid Al-Qassabi and Minister of Economy and Planning Mohammad Al-Tuwaijri.
Notably, the two countries launched a ministerial-level Saudi-Korea Vision 2030 Committee to bolster bilateral cooperation, focusing on supporting business ventures between the two countries and enhancing networking with sustainable support for the economic reforms during the 18th Joint Committee Meeting (JCM) in Seoul last year.
This Vision 2030 Committee comprises five sub-groups headed by senior government representatives from both sides for cooperation in the key sectors that include energy and manufacturing, smart infrastructure and digitization, capacity building, health care and life sciences, and SME and investment.
The sub-groups aim to work closely with private corporations to identify joint projects that will promote the ambitious goals of Saudi Vision 2030.
“During the talks the two sides briefed on how they can work together to bring agreements and business opportunities to fruition through close and continuous cooperation,” the ambassador said, adding: “Through these talks I hope that South Korea can contribute to Saudi Arabia’s realization of its Vision 2030 as an optimal partner.”
During the meeting with Al-Falih, who is also in charge of the King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (KACARE), they discussed ways to step up cooperation in the nuclear industry, the envoy said.
The two countries are working closely on nuclear safety and security, and the Kingdom has sent 41 nuclear experts to South Korea for training and learning to design, construct and develop nuclear plants based on System-integrated Modular Advanced Reactor (SMART) technology.
The Korean Atomic Energy Research Institute and the KACARE signed a SMART pre-project engineering agreement in September 2015 that will remain in effect until November 2018.
Significantly, Saudi Arabia has received requests for information from five countries, South Korea, China, the US, France and Russia, to build two nuclear reactors.
The Kingdom is expected to shortlist two or three preferred bidders and plans to select a winner by the end of this year. The discussion on this lucrative deal is a second chance for South Korea to tap into the Middle East market following a $20 billion contract with the UAE in 2009.
During his meeting with Al-Qassabi, Paik discussed expanding the two countries’ trade and investment cooperation.
The ministers also discussed cooperation in some ambitious projects that Riyadh is pushing for, such as the establishment of an electronic trading system.