Colombia's President Ivan Duque has landed in Seoul to start his South Korean investment-seeking tour to try to reactivate the South American country's economy after setbacks from the coronavirus pandemic.
We are going to have meetings tomorrow with the large Korean business conglomerates to invest in Colombia, to develop new technologies, Duque told reporters.
Duque landed in Seoul Monday with an entourage consisting of six members of his cabinet and several dignitaries from Colombia's business circles. He is to meet his South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-in at the Blue House presidential residence to sign bilateral agreements.
We hope to have a very good conversation with President Moon and we are going to sign a memorandum of understanding in such important areas as health, industrial development and trade, Duque announced.
Colombia's Commerce Ministry sources have indicated that the country hoped to expand its exports beyond primary products such as coffee and bananas onto processed foods, audiovisual and video game industry items, in addition to textiles and footwear.
The country's fiscal deficit in 2020 was 7.8% of gross domestic product (GDP). With the economic reopening, there was a growth of 17.6% of GDP in the second quarter of 2021, compared to the same period of the previous year.
Duque met on Tuesday with senior executives of the Lotte Group, a conglomerate with investments in the food, hospitality and media sectors. On Wednesday he will have a working lunch with executives from Samsung Electronics, Hyundai Motor Group and LG Group.
In addition, the state visit seeks to open doors for Colombia to participate in research on vaccines against COVID-19 and other diseases. This will be a central axis in Duque's visit to the International Vaccine Institute (IVI), as well as in the meeting with the president and CEO of the pharmaceutical company SK Bioscience, Ahn Jae-yong, which produces doses of AstraZeneca.
Colombia's ties with South Korea are deemed to be close, since the South American country committed some 5,200 troops in the Korean War in the early 1950s. Duque is also expected to sign a memorandum of understanding to repatriate some of the bodies of the soldiers killed in the conflict. Duque is also expected to visit the War Museum, where there will be a photographic exhibition on Colombia staged by the Korean Ministry of Veterans and Patriots.
Duque's visit was organized at the invitation of South Korea's president to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the bilateral strategic partnership between the two countries and the 70th anniversary of Colombia's participation in the 1950-53 Korean War.
The two leaders plan to brainstorm ways to achieve economic recovery in the post-coronavirus era based on their iconic growth policies. They are also expected to forge comprehensive partnerships in key areas such as the digital transition, green infrastructure, and the biological and agricultural industries.
Moon also plans to convey Seoul's willingness to support Colombian Korean War veterans and their families, as well as contribute to the modernization of the South American nation's Army. Following the summit, the two leaders plan to adopt a joint statement on their discussions.
Duque's schedule includes visits to the Seoul National Cemetery and the International Vaccine Institute (IVI), scheduled for Wednesday. The Colombian president will leave the country on Thursday, after making stops at the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), the heavily fortified inter-Korean border, and the Korean War Memorial in Seoul.