South Korea’s Ambassador to Egypt Hong Jin-wook has visited the governorates of Ismailia and Port Said, as well as the Suez Canal Authority (SCA), to discuss Egyptian-South Korean plans and investment opportunities.
During his meeting with the SCA Chairperson Osama Rabie, Hong stressed the Suez Canal’s importance and noted that foreign trade accounts for a large share in his country’s economy. He added that they rely mainly on maritime transport.
The ambassador also said that following the grounding of the massive shipping vessel in the Suez Canal, the Ever Given, in March this year, the South Korean Government formed an emergency response system to follow up on the developments related to the incident.
He noted that he values the leadership of President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi and Rabie in quickly resolving the crisis. The ambassador also requested the SCA’s continuous support to ensure safe navigation for Korean vessels through the Suez Canal in the future.
Rabie pointed out that the Suez Canal is the safest and shortest maritime route in the world, with excellent services provided. He said that after the stranded vessel incident, maritime specialists expected that it would take over three months to normalise navigation in the Suez Canal.
However, the SCA managed the quick return of navigation through its employees’ active and tireless efforts.
He said that the ongoing expansion plans in the Suez Canal will help ensure a smoother passage for vessels through the major waterway.
Ambassador Hong said that South Korean companies can play a bigger role in strengthening the Suez Canal’s competitiveness.
The ambassador also suggested establishing a direct contact line between the South Korean Embassy and the SCA, for regular communication and strengthening cooperation.
Meanwhile, Rabie welcomed the proposal, adding that there are great avenues for cooperation between the two countries related to the Suez Canal.
Ambassador Hong also met with Ismailia Governor Sherif Beshara where he emphasised the importance of the governorate, which is home to the Suez Canal. The ambassador expressed his hope that more Koreans would visit the governorate.
For his part, Beshara said that Ismailia Governorate enjoys a special position in Egypt, and expressed his hope for further cooperation with South Korea in manufacturing and agriculture.
Hong said that many Korean companies are successfully operating in Egypt, and significantly contributing to Egyptian exports and job creation.
He hoped that more companies advance into the Ismailia Governorate in various fields, including ship yard construction and ship repair. In addition, the ambassador suggested expanding cooperation with the governorate through concluding a twinning agreement with a local province in Korea, which Beshara welcomed.
During his meeting with Port Said Governor Adel Al Ghadban,Hong highlighted Hyundai Rotem’s ongoing consultation with the National Egyptian Railway Industries Company (NERIC). The consultations aim to establish a factory in East Port Said for the local manufacture of metro trains.
Hong requested support for this project, which will contribute to increase Egypt’s export to neighbouring countries. He asked for Al Ghadban’s support to encourage more South Korean companies to advance into Port Said Governorate, especially by providing infrastructure that will smooth the companies’ business activities and operation.
For his part, the governor briefed Hong on the current state of manufacturing in Port Said Governorate, expressing hope that more South Korean companies invest there. He added that he would make every effort to support Korean companies including building necessary infrastructure.
Meanwhile, Hong said that Port Said has a geographical advantage linking the two continents of Africa and Asia. He also said that based on the close ties between the two countries, he hopes to enhance people-to-people exchanges.
The ambassador also visited the Suez Canal Economic Zone (SCZone) and toured the manufacturing facilities in the East Port Said industrial zone. There, he discussed cooperation plans between the two countries with relevant officials, and investment opportunities for South Korean companies in the SCZone.