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Premier’s visit to S.Korea will boost economic ties – Bilateral trade volume hits $20 bln in 2015

KUWAIT CITY, May 7, (KUNA): His Highness the Premier Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah will hold talks with South Korean leaders Sunday on the prospects of the special ties between the two countries, particularly in the economic, energy and investment fields.

His Highness the Premier, leading a senior-level delegation, starts an official visit to South Korea as part of a tour of four Asian countries including Bangladesh, Japan and Vietnam; the trip started with Bangladesh on Tuesday, May 3.

The bilateral trade volume between Kuwait and South Korea hit US$ 20 billion last year with Kuwait’s exports to South Korea being mainly oil and oil by-products while its imports there from being electronic and electrical equipment, and cars. South Korea is Kuwait’s largest trade partner and largest oil imports which amounted to over 400,000 barrels a day while it is the largest exporter to Kuwait, accounting for 70 percent of Kuwait’s imports in 2013-2014.

Since 1970s, the South Korean companies have been playing a growing role in the development of infrastructure projects in Kuwait, including the construction of highways, flyovers, power stations, hospitals and power plants.

The bilateral ties, particularly in the hydrocarbon sector, made a big stride in the last four years after a South Korean firm was awarded a US$ 742 million-worth contract to build oil facilities at Burgan field. In March, 2015, the Korea National Oil Corporation (KNOC) signed a MOU with the Kuwait Petroleum Corporation (KPC) in order to seek joint business opportunities in the oil and gas sector and encourage the interchange of relevant human resources, knowledge and information.

In March 2016, Representatives of the Kuwait National Petroleum Company (KNPC) and three South Korean companies, notably the Hyundai Engineering and Construction (HDEC) sealed a US$ 2.93 billion contract for the construction of the largest Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) at Al-Zour area, west Kuwait. South Korean firms are implementing Mubarak Container Harbor in Boubyan Island, consisting of 60 terminals and costing up to US$ 1.13 billion. They are also building Jaber Bridge, one of the world’s longest maritime bridges, costing over US$ 2.5 billion.

In last March, the two countries started cooperation in the field of healthcare and opened the door for South Korean companies to modernize the public health system in Kuwait with a view to help patients receive healthcare at home in Kuwait. In September, 2014, the then South Korean minister of land, infrastructure and transport visited Kuwait and signed MoU on cooperation in the areas of housing and infrastructure including the development of the Silk City project in Sabbiya area with a view to realizing the vision of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah for turning Kuwait into a financial and commercial hub. In May, 2015, the two sides inked a MoU on cooperation in transport by virtue of which South Korean firms will take part in the implementation of subway project and the GCC railway project.

The two countries are committed to promotion of the friendly ties in the cultural, educational, scientific, information and youth and sports fields under an agreement signed in 1984. Based on this agreement, Kuwait Embassy organized Kuwait Cultural Days in Seoul in mid-December, 2015.

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