Abu Dhabi: The UAE has decided to invest $30 billion in South Korea's industries as the two countries seek to expand economic cooperation. The investment decision was announced as South Korea's President Yoon Suk-yeol met UAE President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, in Abu Dhabi during a four-day state visit.
At the invitation of Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Yoon Suk Yeol conducted a state visit to the UAE from January 14 to 17, 2023.
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On January 15, Sheikh Mohamed and Yoon held a summit meeting at Qasr Al Watan in Abu Dhabi. During the summit, the two leaders agreed to deepen and further develop the Special Strategic Partnership between the two countries.
The two countries also signed 13 memorandums of understanding, including an agreement between the state-run Korea Development Bank and the Abu Dhabi state fund Mubadala to cooperate for investment in South Korean companies.
In particular, the two leaders agreed to strengthen strategic cooperation in four key areas: conventional energy and clean energy, peaceful nuclear energy, economy and investment, and defense and defense technology; as well as in other areas of mutual interest including space, emerging industries and culture.
The two leaders also engaged in an in-depth exchange of views on regional and international issues.
I. Strengthening Cooperation in Key Areas
1. Conventional Energy and Clean Energy
Recognising the importance of stability in global energy supply chains, the two leaders agreed to establish a Comprehensive Strategic Energy Partnership (CSEP) to strengthen cooperation across key energy sectors including: oil & gas, strategic storage, renewable energy, hydrogen, and hydrogen derivatives. The two leaders acknowledged CSEP provides a platform for further cooperation in clean energy fields such as production and utilization of hydrogen and ammonia, deployment of clean energy infrastructure, and development of industrial ecosystems for renewable energy.
Both leaders concurred on the importance of bilateral cooperation to accelerate and invest in projects of energy security, decarbonization and climate action, and to continue developing both the UAE and the Republic of Korea as global leaders in hydrogen ecosystems.
2. Peaceful Nuclear Energy
Recognising the importance of nuclear power plants as a critical source of energy security and an important element for the growth of the clean economy, and given the existing deep level of cooperation achieved in this area, the two leaders expressed their determination to deepen and accelerate collaboration in the peaceful nuclear energy sector, both by successfully completing the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant (BNEP) project and by jointly pursuing additional nuclear projects, whether in the UAE or in third countries. Both leaders are also visiting the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant and participating in a ceremony commemorating the completion of Unit 3 of the 4-unit Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant, recognizing peaceful nuclear energy as one of the key pillars of bilateral collaboration between the two countries. The multi-unit Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant is dramatically accelerating the decarbonization of the UAE’s power sector in support of the latter’s pledge to reach Net Zero by 2050.
The two leaders welcomed further cooperation in the field of peaceful nuclear energy through the UAE-ROK High-level Consultation on Nuclear Cooperation and agreed to seek ways to expand this cooperation into new areas, including evaluating the potential of small modular reactors (SMR).
3. Economy and Investment
As part of the wider Special Strategic Partnership framework, and building on the UAE’s confidence in the ROK’s economic strength and growth prospects, the UAE announced a commitment by its sovereign wealth funds to invest $30 billion in strategic sectors in the Republic of Korea.
The leaders noted the importance of building dynamic global economies and highlighted the numerous economic initiatives recently launched in the UAE, in addition to the comprehensive development of economic legislation in the UAE. The UAE encouraged the ROK business community to capitalize on these incentives and investment opportunities in various economic and trade sectors.
Recognising that the complex and highly connected global economy is vulnerable to global crises including, but not limited to, cyber threats, supply chain disruptions, energy security, climate change, and global health threats, the two leaders underscored the importance of a coordinated response and cooperation in this regard. As such, both sides agreed on the Trade and Investment Promotion Framework for strengthening trade cooperation between the two countries, acknowledging that trade and investment cooperation is a critical instrument to mitigate global risks and build safe, resilient, and clean bio economy systems.
Recognising that fostering promising SMEs and startups plays a leading role in new industries such as innovation, joint ventures, and research and development (R&D) while strengthening national competitiveness, the two leaders agreed to work together through the UAE’s Entrepreneurial Nation initiative to expand exchange and promote mutual investment between SMEs and startups of the two countries.
4. Defence and Defence Technology
Both leaders expressed a keenness to further develop cooperation in the field of defense, a key element of the bilateral relationship, which continues to be enhanced under the Special Strategic Partnership between the two countries.
The two leaders, valued the defense cooperation that has been developed in a mutually beneficial manner based on the highest level of trust between the two countries. With the aim of further promoting close cooperation, both leaders recognized the importance of advancing the relationship in defense technology to a strategic level, that includes joint investment, research and technology development; and welcoming the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding for joint collaboration in this field.
In this regard, the two leaders affirmed that aerospace industry cooperation discussed during the summit has generated impetus for expanding defense technology cooperation in the medium and long term, and agreed to further strengthen collaboration for the joint development of a wide range of defense technologies.
II. Enhancing Future-Oriented Cooperation
5. Climate Change
The two leaders committed to collaborate on efforts to address climate change, which includes cooperation on the 28th Session of the Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP28), which will be hosted in the UAE from 30 November to 12 December, 2023.
Recognising that climate change and its impacts are shared global concerns that require urgent and collective action, the two leaders reaffirmed their commitment to driving progress on the Paris Agreement and its temperature goal. In this regard, the two leaders pledged to work together to achieve their respective 2030 NDCs and net zero emissions by 2050. Moreover, the two leaders, agreed to strengthen action-oriented cooperative efforts for climate in mutually beneficial areas, and issued the “ROK-UAE Leaders’ Declaration on Climate Action”.
The two leaders, affirming the importance of bilateral cooperation for the peaceful and sustainable use of space, agreed to further enhance close cooperation in space in a mutually beneficial manner. The two leaders welcomed the amendment of the pre-existing Memorandum of Understanding on Space Cooperation to expand the scope of cooperation between the Ministry of Science and ICT and the UAE Space Agency to cover a variety of additional areas, such as space exploration, satellite-based positioning systems, and earth observation.
7. New Industries and the Digital Transformation
Recognising the importance of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and digital transformation in the sustainability and economic development of both the ROK and the UAE, the two leaders noted the importance of deepening and broadening industrial cooperation to meet the challenges of the transition to a sustainable digital economy and to support industrial innovation and economic development. In particular, the two leaders agreed to pursue close cooperation such as joint research and mobility programs in the field of ICT, including artificial intelligence, data, networks, and cyber security. The two leaders also agreed that the two countries would engage in joint efforts to establish a new digital order as digital technologies are becoming increasingly advanced.
The two leaders noted the importance of deepening and broadening cooperation on industry and advanced technology to meet the challenges of the transition to the digital economy and the green economy and to pursue industrial innovation and economic development. Furthermore, the two leaders agreed to launch a Strategic Partnership on Industry and Advanced Technology aiming to enhance public-private cooperation in fields such as digital transformation in manufacturing, mobility and aerospace, parts and materials, and supply chain resilience and issued the Joint Initiative for Cooperation on Advanced Manufacturing.
8. Future Mobility and Smart Infrastructure
The two leaders recognized the emergence of future mobility as the transition towards electric, autonomous, or unmanned driving and the evolution to the third dimension in transportation unfold in the sector. In the face of such shifts, the two leaders agreed to strengthen bilateral policy making and technological cooperation in the sector in part by assuming joint leadership in global mobility initiatives.
The two leaders noted with appreciation the contributions of Korean contractors in building infrastructure projects in the UAE and strengthening bilateral cooperation in this field. To further advance the two countries’ ties in the infrastructure field, the two leaders agreed to expand cooperation to encompass smart infrastructure and promote the sharing of information and people-to-people exchanges in areas including intelligent transportation systems (ITS) and three-dimensional spatial information systems.
The two leaders agreed to expand cooperation to enhance medical services and research and development in biotechnology while investing in the fields of pharmaceuticals and medical devices to promote mutually beneficial growth in the two countries’ healthcare sectors.
10. Agriculture, Food Security and Water Resources
The two leaders, recognizing the importance of bilateral cooperation on smart farming to respond to climate change and enhance food security, agreed to expand cooperation in various areas of agriculture, including pilot projects for different types of smart greenhouses and cultivation demonstration. Highlighting the importance of promoting agricultural technology cooperation between the two countries to realize sustainable agriculture, the two leaders agreed to jointly develop water-saving crop technologies suitable for a dry desert climate so that even countries with insufficient water resources can produce food crops in a stable manner.
The two leaders agreed on further strengthening joint endeavors between the two countries in implementing water-related Sustainable Development Goal 6. The two leaders also agreed to strengthen bilateral cooperation in water resources fields such as water desalination, smart water technologies, wastewater treatment, natural water resources management, and cooperation and coordination on international water scarcity initiatives.
11. Intellectual Property and Statistics
Recognising that intellectual property is a key driving force that enables economic growth and prosperity through creativity and innovation, the two leaders underscored that the decades-long close coordination between the two countries has elevated IP systems. In this regard, they signed a Memorandum of Understanding on enhanced cooperation to implement collaborative activities in a wider range of areas such as utilization of patent information for identification and development of national strategic technologies.
The two leaders, noting the need to strengthen statistical capacities with a view to achieving the SDGs and implementing evidence-based policies, agreed that the two countries will work closely together in the statistics field. They shared the view that the two countries should prioritize exchanging methodologies and practices to produce statistics with the use of cutting-edge technologies, including the use of administrative data and big data, while exploring opportunities for future cooperation.
III. Peace and Stability
12. The Middle East
The two leaders recognised that their strategic partnership is a critical component in their collaborative and mutual efforts to enhance peace and stability in the region, and beyond. The two leaders discussed prospects for promoting dialogue and diplomacy across the region, and stressed the importance of adherence to international law and on principles of respect for the sovereignty of countries and resolving disputes through peaceful means.
In this context, the two leaders expressed their commitment to strengthening cooperation to further enhance regional stability and prosperity. President Yoon commended the role and leadership of President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed in promoting peace and regional cooperation and emphasized that the Republic of Korea will continue to play a valuable role in the region as a Global Pivotal State.
13. Korean Peninsula
The two leaders reaffirmed that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK)’s relentless pursuit of nuclear and missile development poses a serious threat to peace and stability not only on the Korean Peninsula, but also to the whole world. The two leaders condemned in the strongest terms the DPRK’s record number of ballistic missile launches last year, which constitute a violation of multiple UN Security Council resolutions, as well as conventional provocations, such as the firing of multiple rocket launchers and coastal artillery shells.
The leaders reiterated the need for a firm and united response by the international community to the DPRK’s continued provocations. The leaders reaffirmed their shared goal of the complete denuclearization of North Korea and reaffirmed the importance of diplomatic efforts to induce North Korea to return to negotiations. President Yoon outlined the Audacious Initiative aimed at a denuclearized, peaceful and prosperous Korean Peninsula. UAE President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan expressed his support for the ROK’s positive role in promoting sustainable peace on the Korean Peninsula and stability in the Asian continent.
Looking beyond the region, the two leaders emphasised the critical role that multilateral responses can play in addressing global challenges, and the importance of international cooperation across a broad range of policy areas. President Yoon commended the UAE’s role as non-permanent member of the United Nation’s Security Council, and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan reaffirmed the UAE's support for the ROK's candidature for the non-permanent membership of the Security Council for the 2024-25 term, and commended the ROK’s long-standing leadership in the G20 group of nations.
Sheikh Mohamed congratulated Yoon on the upcoming occasion of Seollal, the Korean Lunar New Year, and extended his warm wishes to the Korean President and people for peace, prosperity and good fortune.
Yoon expressed gratitude for the warm hospitality extended by Sheikh Mohamed and invited His Highness to visit the Republic of Korea in the near future. The two leaders agreed to meet frequently and further develop the Special Strategic Partnership between the two nations.