A two-day visit to Korea, by the President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Suma Chakrabarti, has concluded with an agreement to strengthen further the already very good relationship with the country. Korea is a founding shareholder of the EBRD.
During the visit to Seoul, President Chakrabarti held talks with Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Strategy and Finance, Ilho Yoo. They signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Knowledge Management. The aim is for the Bank to share its experience of building the private sector in former command economies. Korea will also share its development experience with the EBRD. The exchange will better support countries undergoing transition or which are projected to undertake transition in the future.
President Chakrabarti said the MoU was important because Korea’s development model could be an example to many EBRD countries and he believed it should be used as a showcase. Korea has also always been a generous donor to the Bank’s work and there was a further example of that commitment. The Deputy Prime Minister signed an agreement, on behalf of the Korean authorities, giving US$1 million to the Small Business Impact Fund for use in Turkey and the Western Balkans. The funds will be used to encourage entrepreneurial activity. Over the two days, President Chakrabarti raised investment opportunities with companies and organisations – the possibilities of investing alongside the EBRD in the Bank’s countries of operations. Future cooperation was discussed with the government-owned sovereign wealth fund, the Korea Investment Corporation (KIC), as well as with the Export-Import Bank of Korea (KEXIM).
The EBRD has cooperated already with KEXIM, co-investing in various projects including the New Bosphorus Tunnel in Istanbul. Both organisations agreed to stay in touch with the EBRD in order to explore future potential projects. President Chakrabarti also reached out to the Association of High Potential Enterprises of Korea (AHPEK), a business association representing mid-sized firms.
At a seminar in the Korean capital, President Chakrabarti explained how firms could work with the EBRD in the 36 countries where it invests. In his speech, he talked about the many projects that had been carried out in recent years with Korean investors. He explained that the EBRD is the only multilateral development bank which focuses just on lending for projects — overwhelmingly in the private sector — and does not provide budget support for governments. Afterwards, he met several companies for individual conversations.
The President said: “Korean companies have a lot to offer our countries of operations, especially in the technology, infrastructure and sustainable energy areas. We have invested together in many projects and look forward to doing many more.”
The strength of the partnership between the EBRD and Korea is reflected in the number of projects which have been implemented. The value of joint Korea-EBRD investment stands at around €1.5 billion. Investment in our countries of operations, with Korean companies, has been particularly strong in the energy, industry, commerce and agribusiness, and infrastructure sectors, as well as in financial institutions.
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