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Barakah Unit 4 adds extra power to UAE-South Korea trade

Korea and UAE presidents Wam
South Korea's President Yoon Suk Yeol and UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan in Abu Dhabi earlier this year
  • Cooperation brings nuclear plant online
  • Non-oil trade reached $3bn in 2023
  • More than 90% of tariffs to be lifted

The fourth and final nuclear reactor at the UAE’s Barakah nuclear energy plant will be connected to the country’s electricity grid in the next few weeks.

The $32 billion Barakah plant, 140 miles west of Abu Dhabi city, has been developed by Barakah One, a joint venture between Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation and Korea Electric Power Corporation.

Once operational, Unit 4 will enable the whole plant to generate a quarter of the UAE’s electricity needs for the next 60 years. It is seen as a symbol of the UAE’s growing trade relationship with South Korea.

Non-oil trade between the UAE and South Korea hit $3 billion in the first half of last year. 

Officials say further growth will be created by the implementation of a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (Cepa), which was signed in October.

The agreement is expected to see more than 90 percent of tariffs lifted over a 10-year period. 

“We now hope to see this agreement enter swiftly into force with a view to deepening our bilateral trade and investment,” said Cheong Inkyo, South Korean minister of trade, who led a delegation to Abu Dhabi last month for the World Trade Organisation’s ministerial conference.

Alana Li, a Middle East research analyst at Asia House, said: “Increased trade in energy, technology and healthcare will likely drive growth. The UAE in particular stands to benefit from greater trade, leveraging South Korea’s advanced technology capabilities as the UAE diversifies its economy.”

UAE-South Korea trade and investment highlights

  • The countries plan to abolish tariffs on each other’s main exports (UAE, oil; South Korea, cars and white goods) by 2030.
  • The UAE’s Mubadala Investment Company is working with South Korea’s Woori Venture Partners to “unlock investment opportunities” and with Hyundai on green steel and aluminium production.
  • The petrochemical major Borouge has set up an office in South Korea for its cables and solar energy businesses.
  • Similar moves by Bespin Global, K-BTS Consortium and Neoply were supported by Abu Dhabi Investment Office incentives.
  • The Abu Dhabi Investment Office opened an office in Seoul in 2021.

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