The 19th meeting of the Russian-Korean Joint Commission on Economic, Scientific and Technical Cooperation was held in Moscow via videoconference.
The Russian commission is led by Deputy Prime Minister, Presidential Plenipotentiary Envoy to the Far Eastern Federal District Yury Trutnev. The Korean commission is headed by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy and Finance of the Republic of Korea Nam-Ki Hong.
“The Republic of Korea continues to be Russia’s important partner in the Asia-Pacific region,” Yury Trutnev said in his welcoming remarks. “We highly appreciate the Republic of Korea’s commitment to expand the successful partnership with our country.”
In turn, Nam-Ki Hong said that Russia is an important and reliable partner for the Republic of Korea in economy, culture and the implementation of the New Northern Policy.
The Russian Deputy Prime Minister noted the recovery of bilateral trade, which grew by almost 60 percent to $21.93 billion over the first nine months of 2021. “This year, there is every chance that we will reach an all-time high of $30 billion,” he said.
However, a slowdown in the inflow of Korean investment was noted. As of late 2020, Russia ranks 35th among the countries where the Republic of Korea invests.
In the Far Eastern Federal District, investors from the Republic of Korea are implementing 10 projects totalling $120 million. “The Russian Far East is open to investment and joint projects with foreign businesses,” Yury Trutnev said. “The Russian Government has created proper conditions for investors. The Far Eastern Federal District is home to priority development areas and a free port. A new type of preferential arrangements with a special tax regime will be created for the Kuril Islands. Investors will have more opportunities for doing business and launching new projects. We invite Korea to participate in the development of the Kuril Islands.”
The ministers discussed interaction within the implementation of the Nine Bridges concept. Nam-Ki Hong proposed expanding cooperation in shipbuilding, infrastructure projects, and energy. According to him, the Arctic can become a new opportunity for expanding cooperation between the two countries and implementing investment projects and international research.
Prospects for cooperation in scientific research and education were also discussed. The Russian Government is creating an international research, education and technology cluster at the Far Eastern Federal University. Yury Trutnev suggested that Korea consider the possibility of joint implementation of a number of academic programmes and investment projects in this area.
The results of the third Russia-Korea international cooperation forum were summed up. According to Minister for the Development of the Russian Far East and Arctic Alexei Chekunkov, who headed the Russian delegation at the forum, the event in Ulsan was attended by over 300 delegates from political and business circles in Russia and South Korea. They discussed a broad range of issues, including the investment potential of the Russian Far East and Arctic for Korean investors. “The results of the forum point to the growing interest of Korean businesses in trade and economic cooperation with Russia. We must convert this interest into practical action,” the minister noted. He said the fourth forum is scheduled to be held in the Sakhalin Region in 2022. The Russian Government will issue instructions to ensure a successful event and visit by the Korean delegation.
Cooperation in hydrogen energy was discussed as well. The Rosatom Corporation plans to launch a project to produce hydrogen in the Sakhalin Region. Considering the geographical proximity of the Sakhalin Region to the Republic of Korea, there are good prospects for exporting hydrogen to the Korean market.
“Efforts to combat the coronavirus continue. In-person meetings are still difficult. This significantly influences investment appeal. Delays at the border are changing the logistics of transport flows. The mounting struggle against climate change may be either useful or harmful depending on the precision and effectiveness of the decisions taken. The solution lies in intensifying international contacts and deepening understanding between countries. For its part, the Russian Government will do all it can to promote cooperation between Russia and the Republic of Korea and create conditions for deepening economic ties and creating new joint projects,” Yury Trutnev said in conclusion.