Posts tagged ‘MOFAT’
September 27, 2011
On 27 October 2011, the official opening ceremony of the China-Korea-Japan Trilateral Cooperation Secretariat was held in Seoul. The Secretariat is a largely symbolic body to promote cooperation between the three states, but holds significant potential in the context of Korea’s regional diplomacy. Read more
September 13, 2011
United States Trade Representative (USTR) Ron Kirk has stated he remains hopeful that the Korea-United States (KORUS) Free Trade Agreements (FTA) will be passed in time for an announcement at the November 2011 Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Leaders’ Summit in Hawaii. Read more
September 9, 2011
On 9 September 2011, Indonesia and South Korea are scheduled to sign agreements on plane purchases on the sidelines of the meeting between Defence Minister Kim Kwan-Jin and his Indonesian counterpart, Purnomo Yusgiantoro. Read more
August 31, 2011
On 30 August 2011, a minor cabinet reshuffle replaced Unification Minister Hyun In-Taek with former Chief-of-Staff and Ambassador to China, Yu Woo-Ik. Domestic media has reported this as signalling a change in North Korea policy. Read more
February 14, 2011
On 14 February 2011, the state-owned resources company, Korea Resources Corp (Kores), and POSCO controlled Daewoo International Corp, announced that they had submitted a non-binding offer to purchase Australian coal miner, Whitehaven Coal Ltd.
Whitehaven Coal, valued at USD3.5 billion, produces coking and thermal coal from four open-cut and two underground operations in the state of New South Wales. Australia is the globe’s largest exporter of coal, with relative proximity to North Asia, political stability, regulatory transparency, and continuing strong demand pushing foreign interest in the sector.
However, like other resource exporting states, Australia has experienced an increase in resource nationalism. The reliance of the ruling Australian Labor Party (ALP) on rural-based independents means that resource nationalism is increasingly translating into direct political pressure.
The Australian Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB), which regulates foreign investment, has started to pay closer attention to the sector, with state-owned foreign investment coming under particular scrutiny. Whitehaven is one of only three top-tier coal exporters that remain predominantly locally-owned and will attract substantial scrutiny by the FIRB.
January 19, 2011
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MOFAT) will this year open small diplomatic missions in Madagascar, Uganda and Rwanda.
The missions will be established as “mini offices” with one home-based diplomat stationed at each post. They will be supported by embassy staff in South Africa, Kenya and Tanzania, which have to date acted as bases for Korea’s non-resident accreditation in the targeted countries. At the end of an undefined trial period, the mini offices will be reviewed and a decision made on their potential expansion.
Madagascar, Uganda and Rwanda have become important trade and investment partners for South Korea as the competition for energy, mineral, and food resources increases. Korea has achieved a limited degree of success in its relations with Africa and is starting to draw greater interest through its development assistance program.
Korea’s transformation from a war-torn developing country, which was net aid recipient, to the world’s 13th largest economy and net aid donor, holds a degree of credibility that cannot be matched by other developed donors. However, the lack of trained Africa specialists with cultural and on-the-ground experience has to date seriously hampered the effectiveness of Korea’s development, trade and investment efforts. This was demonstrated by the disastrous unwinding in March 2009 of Daewoo Logistics efforts to purchase vast amounts of farmland in Madagascar.
The establishment of diplomatic missions in Madagascar, Uganda and Rwanda will allow an expansion of Korea’s development, trade and investment efforts in these countries and in the longer term build a much needed core of expertise in African affairs.
January 12, 2011
It was announced on 10 January 2011 that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MOFAT) has established two teams of China experts and language specialists under its department handling Chinese affairs in an effort to strengthen diplomacy.
An analytical team will report on political, economic and foreign affairs developments in China, and a monitoring team consisting of seven language specialists will report on public sentiment in China.
The Institute of Foreign Affairs and National Security (IFANS), a think-tank affiliated to MOFAT, last month launched a centre dedicated to China affairs, which will act as a hub to collate research on China undertaken in Korea.
In March 2011, China will release its next 5-year economic plan and throughout 2011, political positioning between the ‘populist’ and ‘elitist’ factions within the fifth generation leadership will increase as China heads towards leadership transition in 2012-13.
Reflecting this, 2011 will prove to be a defining year for China’s impact on Korea in economic, political and strategic terms. The refining of MOFAT’s China capabilities will allow stronger coordination of policy towards China as these developments occur.
December 26, 2010
The Finance Ministry has announced that South Korea will seek further Free Trade Agreements (FTA) in 2011, particularly with trading partners in the Africa and Latin America regions.
South Korea currently has FTAs with 16 states and is in negotiation with 12 further states. However, current negotiations underway are experiencing varying degrees of success. Three factors are driving the expansion of South Korea’s FTA load.
Firstly, the continuing lack of consensus towards multilateral trade liberalization leaves bilateral and plurilateral trade liberalization as acceptable second-best options. South Korea currently has no viable plurilateral options.
Secondly, South Korea’s increasingly alarming trade reliance on China has set in motion concern regarding China’s politico-strategic influence over Korea. This was clearly demonstrated in the recent quiet capitulation of South Korea in the collision of a Chinese fishing vessel and South Korean Coast Guard vessel.
Finally, and most importantly, South Korea now views FTAs as viable vehicles to improve medium-term energy, raw-material and food security. The continued expansion of South Korea’s FTA will inevitably place a burden on MOFAT resources but will ultimately improve South Korea’s economic security.