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South Korea delivers as UAE trade continues to grow

Adult, Female, Person Wam
UAE minister of economy Abdullah bin Touq Al Marri meets with South Korea's minister of SMEs and start-ups Lee Young in Abu Dhabi
  • Adnoc took delivery of a South Korean crude carrier this week
  • Trade between UAE and South Korea reached AED19.5 bn in 2022
  • UAE is a ‘preferred investment destination’ for Korean investors

Adnoc Logistics and Services took delivery of its first new-build oil tanker on Tuesday as part of growing UAE-South Korea trade and investment ties.

The Adnoc subsidiary received Hafeet, a large crude carrier built by Hanwha Ocean at its Okpo Shipyard in Geoje Island, South Korea.

The vessel, designed for long-haul voyages to ship crude to customers worldwide, has a capacity of approximately 2 million barrels of crude per voyage.

Non-oil trade between the UAE and South Korea totalled AED3.4 billion ($917 million) in the first two months of 2023, up 9 percent from the previous year. This was on the back of a 14 percent increase in 2022 to AED19.5 billion.

UAE minister of economy Abdullah bin Touq Al Marri said exports to Korean markets grew by 35 percent to reach AED627 million over January and February after exceeding AED2.8 billion in 2022.

Bin Touq met with Lee Young, South Korean minister of SMEs and startups, last week to explore strengthening cooperation in promoting entrepreneurship and supporting the growth of small and medium enterprises. 

The meeting took place as part of the K-Business Day in Middle East 2023 at Dubai World Trade Centre.

Bin Touq said the UAE’s investments in Korea are currently concentrated in key sectors such as industry, trade, shipping, communications, real estate and commerce.

South Korean investments in the UAE primarily focus on the financial, insurance, mining, retail, real estate, transportation, energy and technology sectors.

“The UAE serves as a crucial gateway for Korean startups seeking expansion into new markets, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa region,” he added.

South Korea’s Young described the UAE as a preferred investment destination for Korean investors. She said the UAE is currently the region’s top importer for Korean SMEs, recording sales of AED1.5 billion last year, up 14.9 percent.

Hafeet tanker
Adnoc Logistics and Services received its new Hafeet tanker, built in South Korea, this week

The talks coincided with an announcement by Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation that Unit 4, the final unit at Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant in Abu Dhabi, has begun operational readiness preparations.

The Barakah site is a testament to the UAE-Korea relationship after a coalition led by Korea Electric Power Corporation (Kepco) was awarded the contract to build the first nuclear power plant in 2009. 

The Korean Finance Ministry last month said Emirati state-owned firms are currently reviewing $2 billion worth of investment projects in South Korea.

Korea Development Bank and UAE-based Mubadala Investment Company have also signed a memorandum of understanding establishing the Korea Sovereign Investment Partnership, which will serve as the mechanism for coordinating the UAE’s collective investment in Korea.

Separately, a seventh round of talks to strike a Korea-GCC Free Trade Agreement was held in February in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, after both sides announced their return to the negotiating table in January 2022.