- Top policymakers and business leaders from Africa and the Republic of Korea gathered in Paris on Tuesday to discuss regional integration, industrial productivity and ways to further economic growth and cooperation.
- Over 150 leaders attended the Africa-Korea Business Summit. Speakers at the event included Wamkele Mene, Secretary-General of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), Albert Muchanga, African Union (AU) Commissioner for Trade and Industry, Jang Sung-min, Special Envoy and Senior Secretary to the President for Future Strategy of the ROK, Mzé Abdou Mohamed Chanfiou, Finance Minister of the Union of Comoros, Sim Thsabalala, CEO of Standard Bank and Yu Jeong-joon, Vice Chairman of SK Group
SEOUL, South Korea, Sept. 14, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — The Africa-Korea Business Summit was hosted at the Peninsula Hotel in Paris by the Korea-Africa Foundation and the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) with support from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea. The theme for the business summit was ‘Africa-Korean partnership in an era of great transformation.’
The President of the Korea- Africa Foundation, Lyeo Woon-ki stated ‘This summit was organized to lay the foundation for ‘2024 Korea-Africa Summit’ scheduled for next year and to provide an opportunity for Korean companies to explore market entry strategies into Africa and enhance their understanding of cooperation measures, especially given the full implementation phase of the AfCFTA that commenced in 2021.” The Korean government plans to host the Korea-Africa Summit in 2024 in Korea.
The AfCFTA is the most extensive free trade zone both in terms of geographical coverage and the number of participating countries since the inception of the World Trade Organization (WTO). Fifty-four of the 55 African Union countries (excluding Eritrea) are members of the organization, representing 1.3 billion people and the economic bloc boasts a collective GDP of $3.4 trillion.
The summit featured presentations and in-depth discussions on topics including economic integration, trade, industrialization and productivity gaps, and opportunities for collaboration with Korean businesses and investors across a range of industries including agriculture, mining, energy, renewables, manufacturing and digitalization.
The sessions were attended by over 150 participants, including Wamkele Mene, Secretary-General of the AfCFTA; Albert Muchanga, Commissioner for Trade and Industry of the African Union Commission; Jang Sung-min, Special Envoy and Senior Secretary to the President for Future Strategy of the ROK; Sim Tshabalala, joint Chief Executive of the Standard Bank Group; Ban Ki-moon, former UN Secretary-General; Yu Jeong-joon, Vice Chairman and Head of U.S. Government & Corporate Affairs for SK Group; and Seo Sang-hyun, Senior Researcher at POSCO.
Former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in a video message delivered to commemorate the event, said, ‘The Africa-Korea Business Summit is an excellent initiative’, adding that ‘Africa stands at a critical juncture and the continent is entering a new phase of high-powered economic integration.’
Mr. Ban elaborated by saying, “Africa is rapidly emerging as the world’s largest growth market,” and he went on to emphasize, “Without Africa, we cannot supply the impetus for green revolution or address pressing global issues such as the climate crisis.”
Wamkele Mene, Secretary-General of the AfCFTA, delivered remarks during the session on the day, stating ”Challenges in Africa also act as opportunity for investors. ‘Hyundai’ could build manufacturing bases in Africa and ‘Samsung’ could expand theirs, not just in South Africa and Egypt as they do now.”
Choi Kyong-lim, former Korean representative for WTO CTG stated “Geographically Korea is a very small country, however, our trade volume is the ultimate opposite with being ranked one of the biggest economy in the world. But the trade volume between Africa and Korea is less than 2 percent.” and encouraged the participants “to put efforts for enhancing the economic partnership between Africa and Korea.”
Also, Mr. Choi mentioned 2024 Korea-Africa Summit and urged Africa to support 2030 Busan EXPO which would be a significant business opportunity to Africa.
Jang Sung-min, Special Envoy and Senior Secretary to the President for Future Strategy of the ROK who represented President Yoon Suk-yeol at the event said that ”Africa is being elevated as the biggest and the most important growth hub in the global arena. Major efforts for the regional integration with AfCFTA will be the gateway to Africa’s boundless potential. Prosperous Africa accords with not only international community but also with Korea, creating opportunities of new market to Korean private sectors upon the mutually beneficial genuine partnership”
Albert Muchanga, AU Commissioner for Trade and Industry who participated in a panel on industry and the great productivity gap in Africa stated that “Increasing productivity growth is imperative to achieving inclusive growth and sustainable development across Africa.” and “As Korea’s development experience, overcoming the productivity gap by investing in human capital development and utilization is a lesson to Africa and with the partnership between Korea and Africa, the continent will become a key engine of global economic expansion.”
Vice President Yu for International Cooperation at SK Group, the second-largest conglomerate in Korea, said, ‘I am honored to participate in this business summit, which will explore new opportunities for cooperation between the Korean private sector and African countries.’ He further stated, ‘Given the continent’s unlimited business potential, it is crucial to strengthen bilateral relations and enhance our understanding of African nations.’
‘This summit holds even greater significance as it elevates itself beyond a business forum’, said Lyeo Woon-Ki, President of Korea-Africa Foundation, and he expressed his hope that it would serve as a meaningful opportunity for shaping new cooperation initiatives between Korea and Africa.