|President Yoon Suk Yeol and United Arab Emirates President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan hold a summit at the latter’s presidential palace in Abu Dhabi, Sunday (local time). Yonhap|
2 countries sign 13 MOUs to broaden ties in energy and defense sectors
By Nam Hyun-woo
ABU DHABI ― The United Arab Emirates (UAE) will invest $30 billion (37 trillion won) in Korea as part of a pledge made by the leaders of the two countries to elevate bilateral ties to the highest level, the presidential office said Sunday (local time).
The decision came during President Yoon Suk Yeol’s summit with his UAE counterpart Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan earlier in the day. Yoon is visiting the Middle Eastern country on the first leg of an eight-day tour to the UAE and Switzerland.
“As an expression of trust in Korea, which keeps its promise under any circumstance, (the UAE) decided to invest $30 billion,” Sheikh Mohammed was quoted as saying by Korea’s senior presidential secretary for public relations, Kim Eun-hye.
“(I was) deeply impressed by Korean companies which fulfilled contracts despite difficulties including the COVID-19 pandemic,” Sheikh Mohammed said. “President Yoon’s state visit this time will be a historic moment for the two countries’ relations.”
|A reactor of the Barakah nuclear power plant in the United Arab Emirates is seen in this undated file photo released by Korea Electric Power Corp. Yonhap|
The promise the UAE president referred to was Korea’s exports of nuclear reactors for the UAE’s Barakah Nuclear Power Plant.
Korea and the UAE signed a deal in 2009 to construct four nuclear reactors for the power plant. Two of the reactors are now in commercial operation, and the construction of the third one will be completed within this year.
“It is almost impossible to finish constructing a nuclear power plant within a promised deadline,” a senior presidential official said. “During the past 14 years after signing the Barakah deal, there were many events, but Korea has been constructing reactors within the promised budget and deadline… The UAE president said Korea’s execution of its promise was miraculous.”
Yoon replied: “As the president, I will pay close attention, so that the UAE can reap investment profits and experience sustainable mid- and long-term development.”
|Senior presidential secretary for policy and planning Lee Kwan-sup speaks during a press conference at the Grand Hyatt in Abu Dhabi, Sunday (local time). Yonhap|
The $30 billion investment is the UAE’s largest investment promise made to a foreign country. According to Seoul’s senior presidential secretary for policy and planning Lee Kwan-sup, the largest national-level investment by the UAE before Sunday’s announcement was a $12.2 billion promise with the U.K.
“The UAE’s sovereign wealth fund and other investment institutions will invest $30 billion in Korean nuclear power, hydrogen, defense and other companies for an undetermined period, and the Korean government will assist this by setting up a Korea-UAE investment cooperation platform,” Lee said.
The Korean presidential office said the investment will involve the two countries joint efforts for future nuclear power technologies such as small modular reactors. The timeframe of the investment is undetermined. But the office said, “The investments will be realized as the two presidents have agreed.”
During the summit, the two countries signed 13 memorandums of understanding (MOUs) as their leaders watched. They include the two countries’ joint declaration on comprehensive strategic energy partnership, an MOU on strategic defense industry cooperation, a Korea-UAE international oil reserve project, net-zero acceleration program and voluntary carbon market partnership.
“Those MOUs were signed before the presidents, and at least 30 additional MOUs will be signed during Yoon’s stay in the UAE,” Lee said.
“Through the summit diplomacy, Korea succeeded in drawing a large-scale investment from the UAE, which is a practical outcome of President Yoon’s pledge for economy-centric diplomacy,” Lee said. “Based on their mutual trust which was built upon the Barakah plant, the two countries have agreed that they will go together for the next 100 years and strengthen their cooperation and friendship for the future generation.”