South Korea secures $30 billion in UAE investment and pledges to help strengthen supply chains at WEF

Hong Kong/Seoul

South Korea’s leader is capping off a tumultuous week, having secured tens of billions of dollars in investment from the Middle East and vowing that his country will play a bigger role in revitalizing international supply chains.

On Monday, South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol announced that the United Arab Emirates had pledged a whopping $30 billion in investment to the Asian country.

The news came after the leaders of the two nations held talks in Abu Dhabi on Sunday, in a landmark visit that marked the first state visit by a South Korean president to the UAE, Yoon’s office said in a statement.

The investment aims to increase cooperation in the fields of nuclear, hydrogen and solar energy, as well as defense, along with an agreement to form a “special strategic partnership” at the highest level, according to the statement.

Yoon was joined in the region by a delegation of Korean tycoons, including billionaires who run Samsung, Hyundai Motors (HYMTF) and SK Group. In total, representatives of approximately 100 South Korean companies traveled with the president, according to his office.

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, right, shakes hands with Qualcomm CEO Christian Amon, left, at a luncheon attended by CEOs of leading Korean conglomerates and global companies in Davos on January 18.  Samsung Electronics Chairman Lee Jae-yong and SK Chairman Chey Tae-won are seen in the background.

During the four-day visit, twenty agreements worth 6.1 billion dollars covering nuclear energy, defense and green energy were signed. signed by companies from the two sides, according to the South Korean government.

Some South Korean companies he also agreed to build tomato and strawberry farms in the UAE, a country that relies heavily on agricultural imports.

The flurry of deals came just days before Yoon addressed the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where he discussed the importance of fixing global supply chains.

“The most pressing task of our time is to strengthen supply chain resilience based on reciprocal solidarity,” he said in a speech on Thursday, noting recent disruptions in the supply of food, energy, computer chips, vaccines and medicines around the world.

“The pandemic, geopolitical conflicts, the competition for technological hegemony and the weakening of the multilateral trading system have fragmented the global supply chain, causing it to reshape,” Yoon continued, adding that the war in Ukraine has worsened the situation.

The president said the issue had led to a “trend of bloc formation among countries,” with international cooperation “increasingly seen as a package.”

“Building walls and intensifying protectionism cannot be the right answer,” Yoon added.

In the future, South Korea “will be a key partner in the global supply chain,” using its expertise in sectors such as semiconductors and steelmaking to help stabilize supply chains, he promised. “We will align and cooperate with countries we trust.”

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