UAE seeks closer ties with South Korea on renewables, AI

Korean President Moon Jae-in proposes "special strategic relationship" on first diplomatic visit to the UAE

South Korean President Moon Jae-in speaks at a forum in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Tuesday, March 27, 2018. Moon on Tuesday attended an Emirati-Korean business forum at the Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building, in Dubai as part of his tour of the UAE. (AP Photo/Jon Gambrell)
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The UAE and South Korea on Tuesday pledged to deepen bilateral ties, particularly in the fields of renewable energy, aviation, healthcare and smart technology, during Korean President Moon Jae-in’s first diplomatic visit to the emirates this week.

“We have proposed to upgrade our relationship to a special strategic partnership [to develop our mutual interests],” Mr Jae-in told the UAE-Korea Business Forum in Dubai.

In particular, the UAE and South Korea plan to expand cooperation on renewable energy in line with their respective 2030 carbon reduction strategies, grow the UAE’s nascent medical tourism industry with support from Korean healthcare providers, and increase aviation links between the two countries.

“Both countries are talking about increasing direct intra-line air routes between the two,” the president said.

Other industries with opportunities for “future-orientated collaboration” include space development, construction, ICT, semiconductors and electronics, logistics, and smart technology such as artificial intelligence (AI), he added.

South Korea is Dubai’s eighth biggest trade partner in terms of imports and ninth in exports. Non-oil bilateral trade grew 8 per cent to Dh27.4bn year-on-year in 2017, Dubai Customs said this week according to state news agency Wam.

Imports accounted for Dh22.1bn of the total, exports accounted for Dh4.47bn and Dh866m was re-exports, it said. There are around 170 Korean businesses operating in Dubai at present.


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“Trade with South Korea is gaining more and more weight and value especially after signing the UAE’s AEO [Authorised Economic Operator] mutual recognition agreement with them,” Ahmed Kazim, director of strategy and corporate excellence at Dubai Customs, said in a statement on Sunday.

“This helps unfold horizons of mutual trade and facilitations between us, which includes carrying out the clearance process before arrival of cargo to the port.”

On Monday, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and Mr Jae-in, visited the UAE’s first nuclear reactor – the Barakah power plant – to mark completion of the first nuclear reactor.

Led by the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation, the plant has been delivered by a consortium of South Korean companies headed by the Korean Electric Power Company.

“Korea is already involved in the Barakah nuclear plant and there are opportunities for more work,” Hamad Buamim, the president of Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, told the forum on Tuesday.

The UAE will seek to use Korea’s technological expertise – it is one of the world’s biggest exporters of smartphones and electronics – to ramp up activity in renewables and push ahead with the UAE’s strategy to become a global ‘smart’ city, Mr Buamim added.

The UAE also offers Korea a gateway into the GCC’s largest market, Saudi Arabia. “Korea is one of the world’s top exporters of electricals and Dubai is a top re-exporter of such products around the region, including Saudi Arabia, so there is scope for further collaboration,” he said.