Park leaves for 4-nation trip to the Middle East

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Park leaves for 4-nation trip to the Middle East

President Park Geun-hye departed for Kuwait, the first of four countries on a nine-day visit to the Middle East, in an effort to boost Korea’s economy and better implement a three-year economic reform plan with its so-called “Second Middle East Boom.”

After spending three days in Kuwait, Park is scheduled to visit Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.

The Blue House said that the first presidential trip of the year is meant to expand the country’s diplomatic and economic ties with Middle Eastern countries.

While having meetings in Kuwait with Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, Emir of Kuwait, from Sunday to Tuesday, Seoul will be working to strengthen ties on existing cooperation in energy, construction and plant building and develop cooperation in newly developed higher-value-added industries such as information and communication technology and health and medical treatment.

The Blue House said that business forums will be jointly held by economic authorities of Korea and each of the four countries. The Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency will also host one-on-one business meetings in an effort to win contracts from the Middle East.

The president is accompanied by the largest-ever economic delegation comprised of 116 businessmen and related officials. The Blue House said 59 are from small- and medium-sized enterprises, 30 from large enterprises and 13 from economic organizations. The remaining 14 travelers weren’t described.

“We will try to turn this opportunity into a driving force to achieve the second Miracle on the Han River,” said Ahn Chong-bum, a senior presidential secretary for economic affairs. “About half of the economic delegation members are from small- and medium-sized companies because we want to give a hand to them to expand in the Middle East.”

While the first Middle East boom mostly focused on energy industries and construction, the second boom, which began in the late 2000s, has expanded to other fields such as manufacturing, ICT, education, medical treatment, finance and trade, said the presidential office.

When classifying the economic delegation according industries, 13 of the travelers are from the energy industry, 18 from construction, 37 from manufacturing, 11 from ICT, seven from health and medical treatment, eight from finance, another eight from trading and 14 others from other fields.

BY KIM BONG-MOON [bongmoon@joongang.co.kr]
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