An ever-growing partnershipI am pleased to visit Korea once again, at the invitation of Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se, to take part in the fifth ministerial Mikta meeting, together with our fellow foreign ministers of Indonesia, Turkey and Australia.
Since our first meeting in New York, in September 2013, we have made considerable progress towards consolidating Mikta as an informal consultative platform of constructive powers with growing relevance in the international arena. Our main objective is aimed at strengthening multilateralism, supporting global efforts for stability and prosperity, facilitating creative solutions to regional and global challenges, and exerting a positive influence on the rapidly evolving global governance landscape.
As part of our engagement, we, the ministers of foreign affairs of Mikta, have convened four times, and our governments have held several working-level and senior official meetings during the last 20 months. Such consultations have allowed us to align our respective positions on matters pertaining to human security and emerging global challenges. This week, we are meeting for the fifth time in Seoul with the purpose of taking concrete steps to strengthen our partnership such as the establishment of an innovative Mikta Academic Network, coordinating positions on the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Agenda and promoting additional consensus on Financing for Development and Climate Change. In fact, as we deepen our cooperation on political, economic and development issues, Mikta is advancing to reach its potential as a force for good in promoting the delivery of global public goods.
One of the many virtues of Mikta is that it provides a space for its member countries to continuously take stock of their bilateral relations. This is particularly relevant in the case of Mexico and the Republic of Korea, as we keep developing our comprehensive partnership. Nowadays, our countries are the 14th and 15th largest economies in the world; we share common values that are implicit in our efforts in favor of development, peace, openness, public safety, democratic participation and respect for human rights. Our two countries are proud of their rich cultural heritage and are increasingly recognized for their responsible roles as global actors.
On the basis of these strong affinities, Mexico and Korea have joined forces in order to enhance every aspect of their relationship. Since 2005, when both countries launched their Strategic Partnership for Mutual Prosperity in the XXI Century, bilateral ties have grown steadily. Ten years later we see the fruits of those efforts in the growing number of common goals and joint projects in terms of political dialogue, trade, investment, tourism and educational and cultural exchanges.
The results speak for themselves: in 2014, for the fourth consecutive year, bilateral trade came near to the $16 billion mark, placing Korea as Mexico’s sixth-largest trading partner. Korean companies continue to see Mexico as a preferred destination, reaching more than $2 billion of direct investment, making Mexico the first economic partner for Korea in Latin America. As a result, sector-specific collaboration and value chains are oriented now to explore new opportunities in high-tech sectors such as electronics, automotive production and innovation, but also in more traditional areas such as energy, mineral extraction, steel processing and communications.
Our excellent bilateral relation is not limited to the economic sector. Every day, more and more people in Korea and Mexico are discovering each other’s vibrant culture, both ancient and modern. A prominent example is the exhibition “Diego Rivera, Pride of Mexico” that illustrates the work of one of Mexico’s most accomplished painters. I will have the honor of inaugurating this exhibition at the Sejong Center Museum of Art, which will run from May 23 to Aug. 16. At the same time, Korea’s Hallyu is attracting a lot of attention among Mexicans, as fans of K-Pop and Korean cuisine multiply everywhere, and serve to extend further long existing sporting ties, including taekwondo and archery.
This growing interest in each other’s culture has fostered greater exchanges in tourism and education. In 2014, Mexico received more than 75,000 Korean visitors, an increase of 27 percent compared with 2013, while the number of Mexicans visiting Korea increased by more than 19 percent. Also, last year more than 250 Mexican students came to Korea and around 300 young Koreans went to Mexico. These figures are encouraging and show a great potential we can develop as progress is made in opening new and more direct options for air transport between our two countries.
To round up such expanding social exchanges, an intense political dialogue is conducted by both governments within the framework of bilateral arrangements, such as the mechanism for political consultations. At the same time, a steady flow of visits by officials from national, state and local governments, parliamentarians and representatives from civil society takes place on both sides of the Pacific Ocean.
In addition to the many bilateral opportunities that Mikta has helped to enhance, we are deepening our collaboration on relevant multilateral issues such as cooperation for development, climate change, green growth, biodiversity, education, the restructuring of international organizations and the strengthening of mechanisms to achieve global peace and prosperity, including efforts for disarmament and non-proliferation. Korea and Mexico are active members of the United Nations system, the G20, APEC, OECD and FEALAC. Korea has become one of the most active observers of the Pacific Alliance integration scheme promoted by Mexico along with its partners in Latin America, Colombia, Chile and Peru. Last year, our two presidents, Park Geun-hye and Enrique Pena Nieto, co-presided the special session on financing within the Climate Change Summit, at the invitation of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
These are only a few examples of the many bonds that join Mexico and Korea together. As we continue having a better and wider knowledge about each other, I am convinced that our societies will keep building a comprehensive strategic partnership of ever increasing mutual benefits.
*The author is Mexico’s Secretary of Foreign Affairs.
by Jose Antonio Meade Kuribrena