Korea, UAE agree to be investment partners in new markets

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Korea, UAE agree to be investment partners in new markets

Korea and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) signed an agreement to pursue joint businesses targeting new markets during President Park Geun-hye’s second visit to the country.

It was a followup to discussions during her previous visit last May.

“With the agreement made this time, the UAE will become a strategic partner for Korea in entering other markets,” Yoon Sang-jick, minister of trade, industry and energy, said at the memorandum of understanding signing ceremony with Park and the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan held on Thursday. “The Korean government will make active use of the UAE’s sovereign wealth fund in order to become an early bird in developing relatively new markets like Egypt and create jobs there.”

In the partnership, Korea will supply technological expertise and talents in reactor operation and power plant construction, while the UAE will offer funding and the business networks it has within the Middle East and Africa.

Egypt, one of the UAE’s closest neighbors, is one of the immediate targets.

In Egypt, companies from Korea and the UAE will pursue infrastructure-building projects in areas like nuclear and solar power, shipbuilding and dockyards, port development and fisheries farms.

The two countries will form a council to plan new projects, analyze their feasibility and undertake basic research. The council will meet at least once a year.

After president Lee Myung-bak succeeded in exporting Korean-made nuclear reactors worth $40 billion to the UAE in 2009, the state-run Korea Electric Power Corporation (Kepco) and private builders like Doosan and Hyundai Heavy Industries have been there working on construction.

Korea has been pitching reactors exports to other countries like Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the Netherlands and Finland on its own.

Now it will have a partner in the UAE.

Partnerships and joint nuclear projects are a new trend in the nuclear power industry, the government said, in order to compete against emerging nuclear countries like China. China last year unveiled an aggressive plan to spend $150 billion by 2020 building more nuclear power plants nationwide as part of its effort to reduce carbon emissions.

To stay competitive in relation to the emerging economies, traditional nuclear countries are partnering with each other.

Japan’s largest nuclear power company, Toshiba Corporation, acquired the U.S.-based Westinghouse and BNFL USA Group in 2006.

France’s GDF Suez and two Japanese companies, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Itochu Corporation, jointly received a construction and operation order in 2013 for Turkey’s second nuclear power plant in Sinop. Also, last year, France and China jointly received a reactor construction and operation order for the United Kingdom’s first new nuclear project in the past two decades, with French company EDF using their technology and Chinese state-run companies contributing financial power.

BY KIM JI-YOON [kim.jiyoon@joongang.co.kr]

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