French eager for additional high-tech dealsThe involvement of Alstom Transport, the French TGV manufacturer, in designing Korea’s new bullet trains has added momentum for additional cooperative technology ventures between the two countries. The launch of Korea’s high-speed railroad on April 1 is considered one of the most fruitful outcomes of bilateral technology exchange between France and Korea. Thirty-four of the 46 trains built so far were manufactured in Korea using Alstom technology. Francois Lacote, an Alstom senior vice president who led the KTX project since 1989, said in an interview with the Joong-Ang Ilbo in Paris last Friday that the company is interested in working together with Korea on high-speed train projects in other countries. Separately, he noted that safety problems found during pilot tests of KTX, such as oil escape and signal system trouble, are not serious and will be fixed before the April 1 run. Now Eurocopter, a joint venture between French and German helicopter companies, wants a stake in the Korean market. The company wants to participate in the Korea Multirole Helicopter project, said Patrice Couvegnes, president of the French Korean Chamber of Commerce and Industry, at a press conference in Seoul yesterday. Eurocopter is also willing to share its technology with Korea, Mr. Couvegnes said. The KMH project, jointly led by the Ministry of National Defense and the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy, involves the development and purchase of 400 multipurpose helicopters valued at $8 billion. About five foreign helicopter companies, including Bell Helicopter of the United States and Britain’s Westland Helicopters, are competing to join the project. French aerospace and biotechnology companies are also keen on investing in Korea, Mr. Couvegnes said, adding that the KTX launch will add impetus to additional technology exchanges between France and Korea. A delegation representing the Movement of French Enterprises will visit Korea on Monday at the invitation of the Federation of Korean Industries, Mr. Couvegnes said. The 20-person contingent includes the chairman of the French national railway company, the chairman of the France-based defense company Thales Group and the vice chairman of Eurocopter. Mr. Couvegnes said the executives would discuss opportunities for greater economic cooperation between France and Korea. by Park Gyeong-deok, Hong Joo-yun
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