The President of the Republic, Laurentino Cortizo Cohen, received this Thursday at the Palacio de Las Garzas the Prime Minister of South Korea, Han Duck-soo, with whom he discussed various issues such as bilateral and regional cooperation, trade, investment, infrastructure, resources and renewable energy.
Han Duck-soo was received on the palace steps by the Panamanian ruler and acting Foreign Minister Vladimir Franco. Subsequently, Cortizo Cohen and the senior South Korean official held a private meeting.
The Chief Executive thanked the Prime Minister for the official visit to Panama and took advantage of the meeting to strengthen bilateral ties with South Korea in diplomatic, commercial and cultural matters.
Korea is the 12th largest economy in the world, our second largest trading partner in Asia and the fifth largest user of the Panama Canal.
Han Duck-soo, South Korean economist and politician, is in Panama after participating in the Summit of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (Caricom), in Trinidad and Tobago.
After the meeting with President Cortizo Cohen, the South Korean Prime Minister and his delegation went to the Cabinet Room in the Presidency to hold an extended meeting with the Ministers Federico Alfaro, of Commerce and Industry; Vladimir Franco, in charge of Foreign Relations; José Alejandro Rojas, Facilitation Counselor for Private Investment; Saleh Asvat, Chief of Staff and National Secretary of Public-Private Partnership; Jorge Almengor, Vice Minister of Economy; and Isbeth Quiel, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs in charge; Carmen Gisela Vergara, general administrator of the Authority for the Attraction of Investments and the Promotion of Exports.
At the work meeting, the Minister of Commerce and Industry highlighted that Panama and South Korea maintain a very close and long-standing economic link that was strengthened with the recent entry into force in Panama of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the Republic of Korea and the Republics of Central America.
Exports to the South Korean market increased by 98% in 2022, since the entry into force of the trade agreement, with copper minerals being the main export, representing 97%, said Minister Alfaro, adding that products such as roasted or decaffeinated coffee , cane sugar, frozen fish and tuna, reflected important export figures.
Alfaro highlighted the advantages of Panama as a strategic partner, since it has a wide platform of services and transportation, mainly in sectors such as logistics, maritime, tourism, distribution and redistribution of merchandise; international air transport of cargo and passengers.
This is the first official visit by a South Korean official to Panama in thirteen years. The previous one was that of the then president of South Korea, Lee Myung-bak, in 2010.
Panama and South Korea have 60 years of diplomatic relations with a positive balance in the diplomatic, commercial and cooperation fields. Both countries have signed 9 current agreements and 2 in projects. The exchanges between officials of the two countries have been frequent and of a very high level.
In Panama there are 20 South Korean companies operating and there are seven groups attached to the Special Regime for Headquarters of Multinational Companies (SEM), creating job opportunities and contributing to infrastructure and investment.
In addition, South Korean companies have a shareholding in Minera Panamá and in the natural gas plant being built in Colón, while the HPH Joint Venture consortium, made up of Hyundai Engineering & Construction and Posco E&C, is building Line 3 of the Metro to Panama West . This same group will build the tunnel that will connect Line 3 with Albrook under the Panama Canal.
Samsung will also be a sponsor of the Robotics Olympics to be held in Panama next November.
The Prime Minister of South Korea and his delegation will visit the Canal, the works of the third line of the Metro -currently the largest public project in Panama- and the concrete plant in Vacamonte, where Korean companies participate.
The South Korean delegation included the second vice minister of the Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Lee Do-Hoon; and the South Korean ambassador in Panama, Jeong Jin-kyu.