MSS Hosts Korea-Latin America Forum to Boost Mutual Growth and Cooperation

The Ministry of SMEs and Startups (MSS), in partnership with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), hosted the “2024 Korea-Latin America Future Cooperation Forum” on the 10th of this month. The forum saw participation from over 270 attendees, including high-ranking officials from six Latin American countries—Peru, Honduras, Chile, Guatemala, the Dominican Republic, and Cuba—as well as representatives from the OECD. The discussions focused on strengthening partnerships for mutual cooperation between Korea and Latin America amid a rapidly changing global political and economic order.

This year’s sessions were particularly centered on the theme of ‘Mutual Growth and Strengthening the Civil Economy’, where detailed discussions on tangible cooperation measures to boost the civil economy were undertaken.

During his welcome address, Cho Tae-yeol, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, emphasized, “Korea and Latin America have enjoyed over 120 years of friendship and solidarity.” He highlighted significant milestones such as the support from all Latin American countries during the Korean War in 1950, Korea’s first FTA with Chile in 2004 which set the precedent for FTAs with nine Latin American countries, and the recent establishment of diplomatic relations with Cuba in February.

Minister Oh Young-ju of the MSS noted in her opening remarks, “Amid growing international economic uncertainty impacting the civil economy, the need for solidarity and cooperation between Korea and Latin America is paramount.” She proposed broadening the base of cooperation from government-led to private sector engagement, from material resources to collaboration in technology, human exchanges, and sharing development experiences, and expanding the areas of cooperation from trade to advanced industries and startup support.

Gonzales Olaechea, Peru’s Foreign Minister, acknowledged, “Latin America now plays a significant role on the international economic stage,” and looked forward to mutually beneficial cooperation with Korea, a strategic partner. He specifically mentioned hopes for strengthening supply chains for natural resources vital to the Korean industry and sharing socio-economic development experiences to enhance economic and trade cooperation.

Eduardo Reina, Honduras’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, commented, “Through cooperation with Korea, Latin America can address common challenges amidst various geopolitical conflicts.” He highlighted the potential for collaboration in fields like the green economy, education, and health, where Korea has extensive experience, through various channels such as the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI) and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC).

Carlos Pereira, Director General at the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs, expressed his enthusiasm about participating in the forum as part of the first official delegation since the establishment of diplomatic relations with Korea in February. “Cuba looks forward to continuing to explore bilateral and trilateral cooperation projects with Korea in diverse sectors such as healthcare, resources, renewable energy, and agriculture,” he said, noting Cuba’s extensive cooperation across various fields globally centered around healthcare.

Pereira also mentioned that the experience gained from the coastal erosion response project, initiated by Cuba with the Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) and the Association of Caribbean States (ACS), would be valuable in developing and advancing Korea-Cuba cooperation projects.

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