RIYADH: Saudi Arabia and South Korea have pledged to bolster cooperation in different fields, especially health care, pharmaceuticals and automobile sectors.
The two countries have agreed to set up a dialogue mechanism to discuss strategies to promote the automobile industry in Saudi Arabia, and to work closely to organize a major investment forum, mainly focusing on the pharmaceutical and health industries.
“Riyadh and Seoul have also planned to hold the second meeting of the Korea-Saudi Vision 2030 Committee later this year to bring about tangible outcomes,” said Do Bong-kae, charge d’affaires at the Korean embassy, here Monday. Do was speaking to Arab News after Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih’s successful visit to Seoul.
He said: “Al-Falih and his counterpart Paik Un-gye discussed ways and means to expand bilateral cooperation in energy and other key sectors.
As the Saudi Vision 2030 spurs exciting economic opportunities in Saudi Arabia, the two countries are rapidly expanding cooperation in diverse sectors such as health care, renewable and nuclear energy, smart cities and SMEs.
“Over the past several months, since the joint committee for Vision 2030 was set up, the two countries have made substantial progress across several cooperation projects,” he said.
Referring to the growing cooperation between the two countries in the health, pharmaceutical and automotive industries, a report released by the Korean Ministry of Industry said that “the two sides have agreed to form a bilateral working group to develop Saudi Arabia’s auto industry and host a bio investor forum to help Korean companies make inroads into the Middle Eastern nation.”
The report said that the Korean people, as well as foreigners who live in Korea, have access to high-quality health care at a low cost.
The administrative cost of the health insurance structure is also notably low in South Korea. Moreover, Korea has emerged as a leading pharmaceutical market and global hub in Asia over the past two decades. With a population of 50 million, it is the third largest pharmaceutical market in the Asia-Pacific region.
Seoul’s goal is also to become one of the top-seven global pharmaceutical powerhouses by 2020. In 2016, the country’s pharmaceutical market was worth more than $16 billion. It is estimated to reach $20 billion in 2020.
Referring to the prospects of cooperation in the automobile sector, the report said that the Kingdom could benefit from the experiences of Korea, whose automotive industry is highly developed. It ranks today as the fifth largest automobile-producing country in the world.
Moreover, the growing commercial relations between the two countries in all these sectors, including the automotive industry, will cement trade and investment ties further.
The two countries have already forged closer ties on the commercial front. Two-way trade volume reached $21.3 billion in 2017, with South Korea exporting $5.6 billion worth of cars, electronic goods, steel and textiles to Saudi Arabia. On the other hand, South Korea imported $15.7 billion worth of crude oil and petrochemical products during the same period with the balance of trade in favor of the Kingdom.

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