Intro: CAIRO: On the second day of his visit to Egypt, South Korean President Roh Moo-Hyun said yesterday that while he is mystified by the dearth of his country s investment in Egypt, it is likely to be the result of a lack of information about Egypt amongst South Korean companies.
Roh adds that Egypt is an essential and vital partner for his country, both politically due to its role in encouraging regional stability and economically due to the potential for Egypt to serve as a model for South Korean relations with other countries in the region.
South Korea s direct investment in Egypt amounted to $178 million as of April last year. Roh is keen to see this modest figure increase, saying that investment rather than trade should be the focus of economic dialogue between the two countries and that trade will grow as investment grows.
Meanwhile, the Egyptian-Korean Business Council also met yesterday and agreed to hold regular meetings and organize events in both countries to encourage investment in Egypt, including a visit of a South Korean business delegation to Egypt in October.
Such visits will encourage understanding between the two countries, allowing South Korean businesses to witness first-hand the state of Egyptian industry. Roh described in particular the need for high-profile success stories of South Korean ventures in Egypt to motivate investors in his country.
On the telecommunications front, Minister of Communications and Information Technology Tarek Kamel signed a memorandum of understanding with his South Korean counterpart Chin Dae-je to cooperate on wireless broadband initiatives in Egypt.
South Korea is a world leader in the wireless broadband technology known as WiBro, which provides network coverage of up to five kilometers from a base station. This technology includes a quality of service mechanism that gives some assurance of the timely delivery of data, making it well-suited for high resolution video streaming applications.
Kamel anticipates that collaboration on wireless initiatives with South Korea will facilitate the delivery of broadband services to rural areas and remote destinations. These include affluent areas in Sinai and the north coast that do not currently have a broadband infrastructure. Wireless projects are therefore not restricted to the government s commitment to providing basic internet services to all areas, and profitable business opportunities exist for advanced wireless broadband applications.
Egyptian imports from South Korea grew by 41 percent last year reaching $707 million, while exports to South Korea declined by 40 percent to $210 million. South Korean investments in Egypt are primarily in the fields of automobile assembly, electronics, textiles, banking and construction. Some 49,200 tourists from South Korea also visited Egypt last year.
This is Roh s first visit to Egypt since he took office in February 2003 and the first of any South Korean leader to the region since 1982. It follows President Hosni Mubarak s visit to Seoul in 1999. Roh will proceed to Algeria tomorrow and Nigeria on Sunday.