President Park Geun Hye Concludes Visit to Kuwait
kpopluv, March 3, 2015, 9:17 a.m.
Kuwait's emir voiced expectations that South Korean companies will actively participate in projects in his Gulf state, South Korea's presidential office said Monday, a move that could help South Korean firms secure industrial and infrastructure projects in the oil-rich country.
Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah made the comment in a meeting with South Korean President Park Geun-hye at Bayan Palace, noting that South Korean companies have the reputation of getting things done no matter what, according to the presidential office.
His comments came after Park sought the emir's interest and assistance to ensure that South Korean companies can participate in building infrastructure in Kuwait. The summit came as Seoul is pushing to capitalize on the "second Middle East boom" as a new growth engine for South Korea's export-dependent economy. The trip will also take her to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.
Last year, South Korean companies secured deals worth about US$7.8 billion in Kuwait, the third largest market for South Korean builders. For decades, oil-rich Middle Eastern countries have been a major source of revenue for South Korean builders.
Middle East countries are seeking to diversify their economic portfolios ahead of the inevitable advent of a post-oil era. A plunge in oil prices in recent months has also highlighted the need to diversify the economy that is heavily dependent on oil.
South Korea imported 1.46 million barrels of crude oil from Kuwait last year, accounting for about 15 percent of South Korea's total imports. Park proposed that South Korea and Kuwait explore cooperation in information and communication technology, health care, transportation in addition to energy and construction.
The emir said he expects Park's visit to serve as an occasion to further facilitate cooperation between the two countries and between Kuwait and South Korean companies. Park and the emir also observed the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on cooperation in the health care sector, a move Seoul says could help South Korea provide medical service and training to Kuwait.