The Korea Herald


Yoon calls for broadening economic cooperation with Kazakhstan

By Yonhap

Published : June 12, 2024 - 21:50

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President Yoon Suk Yeol delivers a keynote speech during South Korea-Kazakhstan business forum held in Astana, Kazakhstan, on June 12, 2024. (Yonhap) President Yoon Suk Yeol delivers a keynote speech during South Korea-Kazakhstan business forum held in Astana, Kazakhstan, on June 12, 2024. (Yonhap)

ASTANA -- President Yoon Suk Yeol said Wednesday that South Korea and Kazakhstan need to broaden the scope of economic ties beyond their traditional focus on the automotive and resource sectors to include critical mineral supply chains and infrastructure projects.

During a bilateral business forum held as part of his state visit to Kazakhstan, Yoon underlined the need for expanding the areas of economic cooperation to better complement each other's industries.

"Since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1992, Kazakhstan has become Korea's largest trading partner and investment destination in Central Asia," Yoon said in a keynote speech.

"South Korea and Kazakhstan need to further expand the horizon of economic cooperation, given their mutually complementary industrial structures," he added.

South Korea is Kazakhstan's fourth-largest investor and fifth-largest trading partner. South Korea maintains a significant presence in Kazakhstan's automotive market, while importing crude oil and minerals, such as uranium, from Kazakhstan.

Yoon underscored the importance of enhancing collaboration in the supply chain for critical minerals amid rising economic uncertainties from geopolitical risks.

"South Korea, as a country with processing technology and demand industries, should strengthen cooperation in the critical mineral supply chain," he said.

Korean companies are eyeing investment opportunities in exploration, production and infrastructure development in Kazakhstan, which boasts significant reserves of oil, natural gas and key minerals essential for batteries and chips.

He also expressed hope for the increased participation of Korean companies in Kazakhstan's major infrastructure projects in the transportation and energy sectors with their proven construction capabilities.

"As a manufacturing powerhouse, South Korea can be a key partner in Kazakhstan's manufacturing development strategy beyond the automotive sector," he said.

The forum was attended by about 300 business delegates from the two countries, resulting in the signing of 24 memorandums of understanding covering critical minerals, energy, infrastructure, financing, technology and other areas.

On the occasion of Yoon's visit, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport said Kazakhstan's airline, Air Astana, will resume its direct air route between Astana and Incheon twice a week beginning Saturday, which has been suspended since 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Astana is Kazakh's capital city, and Incheon is South Korea's main gateway, located west of Seoul.

Currently, Korea's Asiana Airlines and Air Astana operate flights between Incheon and Almaty, the largest city in Kazakhstan.