On the Path of Growth and De­vel­op­ment

In 2012 the Repub­lic of Be­larus and the Repub­lic of Korea mark the 20th an­niver­sary of diplo­matic re­la­tions

Economy of Belarus - - CONTENTS - Alina GRISHKEVICH

In 2012 the Repub­lic of Be­larus and the Repub­lic of Korea mark

the 20th an­niver­sary of diplo­matic re­la­tions

Mr Am­bas­sador, the Repub­lic of Be­larus and the Repub­lic of Korea are mark­ing the 20th an­niver­sary of es­tab­lish­ing diplo­matic re­la­tions. This is a good rea­son to re­view the achieve­ments and plans for the fu­ture. What stage have their re­la­tions reached?

I would like to re­mind the readers of the mag­a­zine that the diplo­matic re­la­tions be­tween the Repub­lic of Be­larus and the Repub­lic of Korea were es­tab­lished on 10 Fe­bru­ary 1992. Five years later, in 1997 Be­laru­sian Pres­i­dent Alexan­der Lukashenko paid an of­fi­cial visit to our coun­try. In 2007, Be­larus’ Prime Min­is­ter vis­ited Korea.

Apart from the vis­its of the high­level gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials there was an ac­tive ex­change of busi­ness and par­lia­men­tary del­e­ga­tions be­tween the two coun­tries with the fo­cus on co­op­er­a­tion projects in econ­omy, se­cu­rity, law, cul­ture, sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy. There­fore, the bi­lat­eral re­la­tions be­tween the Repub­lic of Be­larus and the Repub­lic of Korea have been suc­cess­fully de­vel­op­ing

They, who made the first step, are half­way through, an east­ern say­ing goes. The es­tab­lish­ment of the diplo­matic ties be­tween the two coun­tries has fos­tered not only po­lit­i­cal con­tacts but also eco­nomic, sci­en­tific and cul­tural re­la­tions. The bi­lat­eral trade be­tween Be­larus and Korea has been grow­ing year to year. It is worth men­tion­ing that high-tech goods con­sti­tute the great­est part of the bi­lat­eral trade. The two coun­tries have been co­op­er­at­ing in elec­tron­ics, op­tics, IT, nu­clear power and other lead­ing eco­nomic sec­tors. Why are these coun­tries so in­ter­ested in each other? What have they al­ready ac­com­plished since the es­tab­lish­ment of the diplo­matic re­la­tions and what are their prospects for the fu­ture? KANG WEON SIK, Am­bas­sador Ex­tra­or­di­nary and Plenipo­ten­tiary of the Repub­lic of Korea to the Repub­lic of Be­larus, an­swers these and other ques­tions of the Econ­omy of Be­larus Mag­a­zine.

in var­i­ous ar­eas, which re­sulted in over 20 in­ter­gov­ern­men­tal agree­ments.

A 20-year-old in­di­vid­ual is con­sid­ered to be an adult. There­fore I be­lieve that the re­la­tions our coun­tries have built over the past 20 years are quite ma­ture and solid. They have reached such a stage when con­crete re­sults and mu­tual ben­e­fits are clearly seen. More­over, tak­ing into con­sid­er­a­tion the vast eco­nomic po­ten­tial of the two coun­tries, we can say that ev­ery year we will be­come more in­ter­ested and val­ued by each other, es­pe­cially since Be­larus is now part of the Sin­gle Eco­nomic Space.

How suc­cess­ful from your point of view are Be­larusKorea eco­nomic ties? Is there room for ex­pan­sion?

The trade be­tween the two coun­tries has been con­stantly grow­ing and ap­prox­i­mated $200 mil­lion in 2008. In 2009, due to the eco­nomic cri­sis it fell to $126 mil­lion. In 2010, the bi­lat­eral trade grew to $164 mil­lion and in 2011 it reached $197.7 mil­lion.

The Repub­lic of Korea ex­ports to Be­larus cars, elec­tric house­hold ap­pli­ances, com­put­ers, elec­tronic com­po­nents, syn­thetic, plas­tic and other chem­i­cal prod­ucts. The Be­laru­sian ex­ports to Korea in­clude semi­con­duc­tors, op­tics, op­to­elec­tron­ics, fiber­glass and fiber­glass cloth, po­tas­sium fer­til­iz­ers. As we can see from these lists the core com­modi­ties are high-tech and sci­ence-in­ten­sive goods.

How­ever, I be­lieve that the bi­lat­eral trade is not big enough given the trade and eco­nomic ca­pac­ity of the two coun­tries.

Tak­ing into con­sid­er­a­tion im­pres­sive eco­nomic ac­com­plish­ments of our coun­tries we can state that to­day’s trade be­tween Be­larus and Korea is not big enough, to put it diplo­mat­i­cally. On the other hand, eco­nomic suc­cesses of both the coun­tries will con­trib­ute to the rapid de­vel­op­ment and ex­pan­sion of the Be­laru­sian-korean co­op­er­a­tion in the fu­ture.

What can you say about the sci-tech co­op­er­a­tion be­tween the two coun­tries which is

be­com­ing a pri­or­ity in the en­tire world?

Our sci-tech co­op­er­a­tion has been ad­vanc­ing quite well. The Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion, Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy of Korea and the State Com­mit­tee for Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy of Be­larus have been strength­en­ing their ties. There is a con­stant ex­change of aca­demic del­e­ga­tions to dis­cuss cur­rent and fu­ture co­op­er­a­tion op­por­tu­ni­ties.

The Be­laru­sian Na­tional Tech­ni­cal Univer­sity, the lead­ing tech­ni­cal univer­sity in your coun­try, has been ac­tively co­op­er­at­ing with Korean ed­u­ca­tion and re­search or­ga­ni­za­tions. In 2011, the Be­laru­sian-korean Sci-tech Co­op­er­a­tion Cen­ter was opened at the BNTU high-tech park.

I would like to note that the Min­istryof Econ­o­myand­knowl­edge of the Repub­lic of Korea has been fi­nan­cially sup­port­ing var­i­ous joint projects as well as pro­mot­ing pro­fes­sional ex­change be­tween Korean and Be­laru­sian com­pa­nies, uni­ver­si­ties, re­search cen­ters.

I hope that in the fu­ture all the ad­van­tages that our coun­tries have in the sci-tech field in the public and pri­vate sec­tors will foster our mu­tu­ally ben­e­fi­cial co­op­er­a­tion.

As we all know, Mr Am­bas­sador, Be­larus has launched the con­struc­tion of the nu­clear plant. The Repub­lic of Korea has the fifth largest num­ber of nu­clear re­ac­tors in the world. Can this ex­pe­ri­ence be of any use to Be­laru­sian spe­cial­ists? Have our coun­tries been co­op­er­at­ing in the area of peace­ful uses of nu­clear en­ergy?

First of all, I would like to note that Be­larus’ decision to re­nounce the Soviet nu­clear weapons pro­gram af­ter the coun­try be­came in­de­pen­dent as well as its non-pro­lif­er­a­tion ac­tiv­i­ties can serve as a good ex­am­ple for other coun­tries, in­clud­ing North Korea. The Repub­lic of Korea has been closely co­op­er­at­ing with Be­larus in a num­ber of atomic en­ergy is­sues.

In­deed, we have gained rich ex­pe­ri­ence in the field. Like Be­larus, the Repub­lic of Korea has limited nat­u­ral re­sources. Due to the lack of en­ergy sources our coun­try had to re­sort to the peace­ful atom, one of the most pow­er­ful and ef­fec­tive sources of en­ergy, in or­der to keep up the eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment.

Nu­clear en­ergy helped meet the eco­nomic needs of Korea more ef­fec­tively. To­day the coun­try runs 21 atomic re­ac­tors and as you said it has now the world’s fifth largest num­ber of re­ac­tors. Electricity gen­er­ated by nu­clear plants ac­counts for 36% of the to­tal elec­tric power con­sumed in Korea.

We have gained rich ex­pe­ri­ence and ex­per­tise in con­struc­tion of nu­clear plants and their safe op­er­a­tion. These ad­van­tages have been es­sen­tial for ex­port­ing Korean atomic re­ac­tors which are con­sid­ered to be among the safest in the world.

I am aware of the fact that this year Be­larus starts con­struc­tion of its nu­clear power plant and Rus­sia was se­lected as the nu­clear re­ac­tor sup­plier. How­ever, to en­sure ef­fi­cient and sta­ble op­er­a­tion of a nu­clear plant all kinds of fa­cil­i­ties and equip­ment are needed. There­fore I be­lieve that our coun­tries can es­tab­lish co­op­er­a­tion in the in­fra­struc­ture de­vel­op­ment and per­son­nel train­ing for the nu­clear plant.

Let’s talk about busi­ness con­tacts and co­op­er­a­tion. In par­tic­u­lar, rep­re­sen­ta­tives of what Korean com­pa­nies have been op­er­at­ing in Be­larus and will their num­ber be grow­ing?

To­day Be­larus has rep­re­sen­ta­tives of such lead­ing Korean com­pa­nies as LG and Sam­sung. A well-known au­to­mo­bile pro­ducer Hyundai Mo­tor Com­pany has also been op­er­at­ing in Be­larus. I can say that Korean goods are no strangers to Be­laru­sian con­sumers.

The in­ter­est of Korean busi­ness in your coun­try is grow­ing due to its ac­ces­sion to the Cus­toms Union and Sin­gle Eco­nomic Space, which gives Be­larus a num­ber of geopo­lit­i­cal ad­van­tages.

It goes with­out say­ing that be­fore com­ing to an­other mar­ket one has to gain full un­der­stand­ing of busi­ness op­er­a­tion there, to learn about all the pe­cu­liar­i­ties of the na­tional tax­a­tion leg­is­la­tion, prop­erty right guar­an­tees, etc. Some steps have al­ready been taken in this di­rec­tion. In par­tic­u­lar, the Korean In­sti­tute for In­ter­na­tional Eco­nomic Pol­icy (KIEP), one of the lead­ing Korean re­search in­sti­tutes in this area, has pub­lished a book ded­i­cated to the econ­omy, in­dus­try and in­vest­ments in the Repub­lic of Be­larus.

I be­lieve that by do­ing that Korea has been lay­ing a foun­da­tion for pro­mo­tion of the Be­laru­sian mar­ket among our com­pa­nies. The em­bassy of the Repub­lic of Korea will also do its ut­most to at­tract Korean

in­vest­ments in such promis­ing eco­nomic sec­tors as ma­chine en­gi­neer­ing and elec­tron­ics by dis­sem­i­nat­ing in­for­ma­tion about fa­vor­able busi­ness en­vi­ron­ment, ex­cel­lent in­fra­struc­ture and reg­u­la­tory frame­work of the Repub­lic of Be­larus.

What do you think has to be done to boost the mu­tual trade?

To in­crease the trade be­tween the two coun­tries we need a set of mea­sures pro­mot­ing vol­un­tary ar­rival of pri­vate com­pa­nies to the mar­ket of the other coun­try. In par­tic­u­lar, I would like to re­it­er­ate that the more in­for­ma­tion we dis­sem­i­nate about a coun­try’s eco­nomic and pro­duc­tion ca­pac­ity, the more clearly pri­vate com­pa­nies will be able to project their fu­ture rev­enues and prof­its.

Our em­bassy is mak­ing its con­tri­bu­tion to this process. We have pro­vided all the nec­es­sary sup­port to the del­e­ga­tion of the Korean Im­porters’ As­so­ci­a­tion dur­ing their visit to Be­larus which re­sulted in a mem­o­ran­dum of un­der­stand­ing with the Be­laru­sian Cham­ber of Com­merce and In­dus­try. I think that the mere fact that rep­re­sen­ta­tives of this or­ga­ni­za­tion that ac­counts for 80% of the to­tal im­ports of the Repub­lic of Korea vis­ited Be­larus is very sig­nif­i­cant.

At a Be­laru­sian-korean busi­ness sem­i­nar held dur­ing the visit the par­ties con­ducted ne­go­ti­a­tions on im­port and ex­port of lu­bri­cant and en­gine oil, poly­eth­yl­ene fiber, wood, dry milk, dairy prod­ucts, etc.

The em­bassy can­not dis­close the plans of pri­vate com­pa­nies, but I can say that the Korean busi­ness­men who at­tended the sem­i­nar were quite pleased with the re­sults of the ne­go­ti­a­tions. I think that it opens good op­por­tu­ni­ties for boost­ing the busi­ness co­op­er­a­tion and trade be­tween the two coun­tries in the fu­ture.

I can also say that the em­bassy will con­tinue stim­u­lat­ing and sup­port­ing the ex­change of del­e­ga­tions both at the level of gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials and pri­vate sec­tor.

Can you tell us more about the vis­its planned for this year be­tween Be­larus and Korea?

The great­est num­ber of vis­its will deal with sci-tech co­op­er­a­tion. In par­tic­u­lar, the Chair­man of the State Com­mit­tee for Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy of Be­larus and head of the High-tech Park will visit Korea upon the in­vi­ta­tion of the Korean Foun­da­tion. Dur­ing the forth­com­ing meet­ings, the par­ties will dis­cuss plans for fur­ther bi­lat­eral co­op­er­a­tion with Korean re­search in­sti­tutes and com­pa­nies.

I would like to note that our em­bassy in­tends to ac­tively pro­mote ex­change pro­grams be­tween var­i­ous gov­ern­ment agen­cies of Be­larus and the Min­istry of Econ­omy and Knowl­edge as well as the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion, Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy of Korea.

This year the em­bassy also plans to hold Korean-be­laru­sian con­sul­ta­tions and a ses­sion of the joint com­mit­tee for econ­omy, sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy. Apart from that, vis­its of rep­re­sen­ta­tives of cul­tural and aca­demic cir­cles of the two coun­tries will be held at the gov­ern­men­tal level.

I be­lieve that the ac­tive ex­change of vis­its makes a sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tion to the de­vel­op­ment of bi­lat­eral re­la­tions and pro­motes un­der­stand­ing be­tween the two coun­tries.

Be­larus’ ex­port items to Korea in­clude semi­con­duc­tor and op­ti­cal de­vices, laser equip­ment, glass fibers and glass fab­ric, potash fer­til­iz­ers

The Korean Lan­guage and Cul­ture Cen­ter was opened at the Minsk State Lin­guis­tic Univer­sity

in 2011

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