Reinforcing Korea and Mexico ties

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Reinforcing Korea and Mexico ties

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Jose Luis Bernal

At the beginning of 2014, Mexico and the Republic of Korea celebrated the 52nd anniversary of the establishment of their bilateral diplomatic relations. To commemorate the occasion on Jan. 23, the Embassy of Mexico in Seoul opened “Outside-in Mexican Contemporary Art,” a double exhibition of contemporary art that includes 39 works by renowned artists from Oaxaca State and 17 of Benjamin Dominguez’s pieces, at the Museum of Art in the Seoul National University.

Celebrating diplomatic relations with a sample of the richness and diversity of Mexican culture allows us to emphasize the importance Mexicans attach to their relationship with Korea. Through our promotional program, we aim to promote a wider awareness of rich Mexican culture, to expand contact between our nations and to strengthen our partnership for mutual benefit.

Mexico and Korea share many similarities in their development processes. Both societies are well known for their efforts to combat poverty and transform their productive capacities, and the two countries proudly present themselves as emerging powers of special relevance in today’s global economy.

Since the signing of the Strategic Partnership Agreement for Mutual Prosperity in 2005, Mexico and Korea have seen their reciprocal importance grow steadily, to the point where Korea has now become Mexico’s sixth-largest economic partner in the world. Bilateral trade tripled in the last decade, exceeding $15 billion annually. In the same period, Mexican exports to Korea increased 400 percent.

Much of this growing trade is performed by the more than 1,600 Korean companies established in Mexico, whose investment and technologies create significant value chains in key economic sectors, adding to job creation, local development and foreign trade. It is foreseen that this partnership will continue to grow as a result of structural reforms recently approved in Mexico, which will open opportunities for joint ventures, technological development and personnel training in priority sectors for both economies.

The growing importance and intensity of our bilateral relationship has boosted the strategic partnership to a higher level. We want to take the many coincidences and the renewed momentum in our bilateral relations to create new synergies through the exchange of successful experiences in economic and social development, in dealing with global crises and regional conflicts, and in fighting poverty and inequality.

This requires the two countries to keep working together with a creative, comprehensive approach; to deploy an effective promotional strategy; to foster public and parliamentary diplomacy; and to continue developing our relationship with key players - entrepreneurs, scholars and educational institutions, research centers and local governments, among others.

Our national governments concede its proper political dimension to this relationship. In 2013, bilateral contacts experienced a renewal process. During their first year in office, President Park and President Pena Nieto met twice, first in September, during the St. Petersburg Group of 20 Summit, and in Bali in October at the APEC Summit. The two presidents committed to further strengthening the various chapters of the Strategic Partnership in the fields of trade, investment, tourism, culture, education and development cooperation, and they extended invitations to each other to pay reciprocal State visits in 2014 and 2015.

Similarly, Foreign Ministers Yun Byung-se and Jose Antonio Meade Kuribrena have met repeatedly, both to review the bilateral agenda and to design novel formulas of action at the multilateral level. It is widely known that Mexico and the Republic of Korea share similar positions on various issues of the global agenda, such as the reform of UN Security Council, climate change, international cooperation for development and the search for peace and security. Both countries share a common agenda in the OECD and the G-20. They also share membership in regional forums such as APEC and Fealac; and Korea plays a constructive role as an observer of the Pacific Alliance and has recently expressed interest in joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, in which Mexico is an active partner.

Given the extent of their convergence on global affairs, at the end of 2013 Mexico and Korea - together with other emerging economies - decided to drive a consultation group that seeks to improve the role of middle powers in international governance and act more efficiently in areas of common interest. Thus, the mechanism for dialogue and multilateral cooperation known as Mikta - consisting of Mexico, Indonesia, Korea, Turkey and Australia - emerged.

The new lunar year, the Year of the Blue Horse, offers very good omens to foster the strategic partnership between Mexico and Korea. A continuous political dialogue, expanding economic exchanges, new cooperation mechanisms and agreements, and the expected reciprocal state visits give us strong fundamentals to keep building a comprehensive partnership of mutual benefit between Korea and Mexico. I am convinced that this new rapprochement will boost the creative economy and value chains in our two countries, will bring new benefits to every social sector involved and will allow our two nations to continue promoting innovative initiatives to tackle global challenges.

*The author is the ambassador of Mexico in Korea.

By Jose Luis Bernal

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