Welcoming Remarks by H.E. Jongmoon Choi
2nd Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea
at the 2021 Korea-Africa Business Forum
December 9, 2021
Your Excellency Albert M. Muchanga,
African Union Commissioner for Economic Development, Trade, Industry and Mining (ETIM)
Your Excellency Ambassador Woon-ki Lyeo
It is my honor and pleasure to participate in the 2021 Korea-Africa Business Forum in spite of the pandemic.
It is unfortunate that the 5th Korea-Africa Forum scheduled to be held today had to be postponed to sometime next year due to concerns over spread of the Omicron variant.
I am glad that the 2021 Korea-Africa Business Forum is being held as scheduled despite all that even if in a hybrid format.
I greatly value this initiative as a truly fruitful way to further promote economic cooperation between Korea and Africa.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought many challenges – yet, it has also been impetus for greater regional and continental integration.
Against this backdrop, the theme for today’s forum - “Integrated Africa, New Era for Transformative Partnership” – is very timely.
I trust that it will be an invaluable opportunity to exchange ideas and perspectives on the changing landscape of the African economy.
And indeed on the evolving partnership between Korea and Africa.
Korea and Africa may be 10,000 km apart but there are no limits to the bonds of partnership between us.
I would like to elaborate on three areas in which there is great scope to further deepen our ties.
First and most pressing is cooperation in the area of public health.
The emergence of the Omicron variant is indeed a wake-up call regarding the need to address global vaccine inequality. Unless vaccines are distributed to all nations in sufficient quantities, there is no way to stem the ongoing emergence of variants – it is key in stopping the spread of COVID-19.
To this end, the Korean government has pledged $200 million to COVAX AMC.
Korea will also be delivering additional vaccines to Africa in close coordination with the Africa CDC and UNICEF.
In addition, equipped with a world-class biopharmaceutical production capacity, Korea, as a global vaccine hub, will take a leading role to increase the supply of vaccines around the world.
Second, Korea and Africa will work together more closely in preparation for the ushering in of a new era with the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
Launched this year, AfCFTA is the world’s largest free trade area, second only to WTO.
The AfCFTA will create a single set of rules for trade and investment, offering an attractive investment environment for foreign investors.
With the elimination of tariffs on 90% of trade in goods, the intra-African trade is set to increase, thereby generating impetus for the industrialization of Africa.
In this respect, there are many areas for collaborative work between Africa and Korea, particularly in fields such as manufacturing and infrastructure.
Hyundai & Kia Motor’s assembly plants to be established in Ghana and Samsung and LG’s TV factories in South Africa are good examples.
The cooperation on customs clearance is also a case in point. Five African countries have introduced the Korean electronic customs clearance system, the so-called UNI-PASS, contributing significantly to increased customs revenue.
Third, Korea will strengthen collaboration in the field of green technology with Africa.
In particular, given that Sub-Saharan Africa has a significantly lower supply rate of electricity (46.7% as of 2019) than any other region, Korea will seek to play a part in the promotion of renewable energy and expansion of electronic transmission networks.
In this regard, Korea signed an agreement with the African Development Bank in June, under which we will provide $600 million over a period of five years.
Going forward, with abundant renewable energy resources in Africa, African renewable energy markets could have great potential for greenhouse gas emission rights for Korean companies under the 2015 Paris Climate Change Convention.
In closing, I would like to stress that Africa is indeed an important partner for Korea.
This year, there were visits by high-ranking officials from my Ministry, including myself, to 15 African countries.
In each country I visited, I felt a sense of eagerness on the part of our African partners to further strengthen cooperation with Korea.
I look forward to this forum yielding tangible results for a future of prosperity for both Korea and Africa.