The Republic of Korea is among Russia’s key trade and economic partners with bilateral trade approaching the milestone of $25 bln, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov noted in an interview with Yonhap News Agency (South Korea), the website of the Foreign Ministry of Russia reports.
“We attach particular importance to the cooperation within the Russian-Korean Interregional Cooperation Forum, which will be held for the third time in the Republic of Korea next year,” FM said.
As he mentioned, “Last year, over 270K Russians visited South Korea and around 430K Koreans travelled to Russia. This steady growth of tourist flows is largely due to the 2014 Agreement between the Government of the Russian Federation and the Government of the Republic of Korea on Mutual Visa Waiver.”
The Minister pointed out though that “One of the bottlenecks in our bilateral economic links is their investment component. For example, Russia is currently implementing only seven projects in Russia’s Far East, worth a total of RUR 2.4 bln ($30.4 mio), using the resources of South Korean companies. At the same time, an outflow of South Korean capital from Russian regions in the past years has been noted. The preferential capital investment regime, currently in place in Siberia and Russia’s Far East, offers good opportunities for reversing the negative trends. The priority development areas and the Free Port of Vladivostok offer foreign investors, including investors from South Korea, some of the best conditions in the Asia-Pacific Region when it comes to such industries as healthcare, port infrastructure, ship maintenance, tourism and agriculture. Many of these industries are included in the Nine Bridges, the nine priority areas of trade and economic cooperation between our countries.”
“The potential of trilateral economic cooperation between Russia, South Korea and North Korea remains unfulfilled,” he further stressed. “Our country has continuously supported initiatives involving the three countries, including the integration of Korean railways with the Trans-Siberian Mainline, as well as transit supplies of pipeline gas and electricity to South Korea via North Korea. These projects not only serve the economic interests of the three countries but can also make a sizeable contribution to strengthening peace and security on the Korean Peninsula.”
As Sergey Lavrov said, “It is important to launch practical measures in this area and not wait until the international sanctions against North Korea are lifted. The first step could be the establishment of transit shipments of Russian coal via the port in Rajin to the Republic of Korea involving investments of the South Korean companies under the Khasan‒Rajin project — considering that this project has been released from the UNSC sanctions.”