Arab Today, arab today africa south korea seek to shoreup trade
Last Updated : GMT 07:01:36
Arab Today, arab today
Arab Today, arab today

Africa, South Korea seek to shore-up trade

Arab Today, arab today

Arab Today, arab today Africa, South Korea seek to shore-up trade

Nairobi - XINHUA

Esther Kamande has been in import business, often importing various types of merchandise like clothes and perfumes from Europe and the Far East. But for the 12 years she has been in business, she has never done a transaction originating from South Korea. \"I have never thought of the country as a possible source of business,\" said Kamande in an interview at her Faston Fashion Shop along Duruma Road in the Kenyan capital Nairobi. \"I have never heard any of my clients also ask me to supply them with goods from that country,\" she added. She is not alone in the pool of business people in Nairobi for instance, who have only read about South Korea in the newspapers or heard about it in television. \"I think the challenge is that the knowledge of the country in Kenya is extremely low, people here know about Dubai, China, Turkey, Britain and the United States,\" she added. In the government circles, asking an official say from the Ministry of Trade about the progress of Kenya\'s commercial relations with South Korea, the response will be predictable; \"will check and then revert.\" Unlike for say China, Uganda or any other major trading partner that will at least prompt a general response. But in growing global trade where old trading barriers are being broken and new trading alliances being formed, staying out of the loop of any trading bloc is a big loss and it appears South Korea and Africa have realized this fact. Although trade between the two entities has not been dormant, with the value of trade increasing from 6.4 billion U.S. dollars in 2000 to 13.9 billion in 2009, Africa remains a marginal trading partner. According to the Africa Development Bank (AfDB), which is the anchor facilitator of the growing trade relations between Africa and South Korea, Africa accounts for only 3.3 percent of total South Korean exports and 1 percent of imports. South Korea\'s foreign direct investment has also increased from 16.9 million dollars in 2001 to 373.6 million dollars in 2009, according to the AfDB, most of which was by then invested in nickel mining in Madagascar and oil in Nigeria. The amount is however seen as marginal compared to investment potential in Africa. Four years ago, South Korea and Africa formed what is known Korea Africa Economic Cooperation (KOAFEC) Ministerial Conference meant to change these figures. Next week, on Oct. 15-18, groups from the two entities will be meeting in Seoul, South Korea for the fourth time to come up with plans of increasing trade between the two. \"Since the first meeting in Seoul in 2006, KOAFEC has progressed into a highly recognized channel for economic cooperation and receives the full support of its co-organizers, including the AfDB, the Korean Ministry of Strategy and Finance, and the Export-Import Bank of Korea,\" noted a statement from the AfDB released this week to announce the dates of the meeting. The theme of this year\'s conference focuses on \"inclusive and green growth,\" and the program will include the ministerial round table, bilateral meetings of ministers, economic cooperation seminars, African countries\' investor relation activities, and one- on-one business meetings. \"The conference outcomes are expected to increase inclusive economic growth of African countries through the application of Korea\'s development approaches and knowledge on inclusive growth in other sectors,\" said Belinda Chesire of the AfDB Partnerships and Cooperation Unit. Last year, South Korea president made a nine-day trip to Africa, visiting South Africa, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and Ethiopia. In the same year, Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA) established Korea Business Centers in Ethiopia, Ghana, and Cameroon in addition to the previous forum in Africa in order to make it easier for South Korean companies enter African markets. According to a report by Korea Institute for International Economic Policy; Korea-Africa: Emerging Opportunities published in 2011, South Korea\'s role in sub-Saharan Africa\'s commercial development is set to rise in the coming years. \"Like China\'s resource-for-infrastructure model, Korea\'s resource-for-development model -- with a focus on agricultural, information and communication technology, and social projects -- offers much needed and greatly valued services to underdeveloped African countries.\" 

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