Envoy: South Korea seeks to boost Iran ties
South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in and government are very much committed to strengthening and deepening relations between Seoul and Tehran, as Iran is a very precious and strategic partner for the East Asian country.
Speaking to Iran Daily on the sidelines of the 23rd Press Exhibition currently underway in Tehran, South Korean Ambassador to Iran Kim Seung-ho said that, in June 2017, Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani visited Seoul.
“This visit was reciprocated by South Korea’s Parliament Speaker Chung Sye-kyun, later in August, which was indicative of Seoul’s commitment to cementing and strengthening Iran ties.”
Commenting on South Korean companies’ present activities in Iran and their cooperation with their Iranian counterparts, the ambassador said they had not yet started actual work in the Middle Eastern state.
Talks, however, are currently underway by the two sides to sign cooperation documents and contracts, and decide on the methods of financing their joint projects, the South Korean ambassador added.
Nevertheless, he stressed, more time is needed to achieve favorable results in this regard.
Following the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – signed between Tehran and P5+1 – in January 2016, and the removal of Western sanctions on the Asian country, the general environment and atmosphere in Iran have improved remarkably, the ambassador said.
“A large number of South Korean companies are flocking to the Iranian market. We have nine South Korean guesthouses, which are small hotels, in Iran, only for South Korean tourists who are, at present, mostly businessmen.”
What is interesting about these guesthouses, he said, is that during the past few months all of their rooms have been fully booked by South Korean businessmen and traders.
“The two sides are holding good talks that are progressing well and will produce practical outcomes in the near future.”
He predicted that trade between the two countries would reach $10 billion by the end of 2017, adding that South Korea is currently experiencing a deficit in trade with Iran.
“The trade balance between the two countries is highly in favor of Iran, as a result of the Middle Eastern state’s oil exports to South Korea.”
He noted that Iranian crude exports to South Korea constitute some 75 percent of the bilateral trade, while South Korean exports to Iran account for some 25 percent of the total transactions.
The euro and the South Korean won are the two major currencies currently used in trade transactions between Tehran and Seoul, the ambassador said.
He added that the payment mechanism operates this way: “Having purchased oil from Iran, South Korean importers deposit its money in the banks of the East Asian nation. This money is used later by Iranian
AMIR RAJABI/IRAN DAILY