Korea, UAE sign 19 agreements, including $1.5B LNG carrier deals

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A total of 19 agreements and memorandums of understanding (MOUs), mainly in the energy sector, were signed between the governments and companies of Korea and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Wednesday during President Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan’s two-day state visit to Korea.

The agreements, some of them non-binding, also involve the defense, culture and AI sectors, including a bilateral free trade deal.

Samsung Heavy Industries and Hanwha Ocean each signed letters of intent with Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) on Wednesday to build and deliver at least six liquefied natural gas (LNG) carriers, a deal potentially worth $1.5 billion.

Up to four more ships could be added to the deal, according to the Trade Ministry.

The potential LNG carrier deals came as the UAE President pledged to invest $30 billion in Korea last year, emphasizing strategic cooperation in the four key areas of nuclear power, energy, investment and defense areas during Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol’s state visit.

A Korea National Oil Corporation-led consortium, which includes GS Energy and Samsung Engineering, signed an agreement with ADNOC to jointly develop and invest in the hydrogen supply chain, including the production of blue ammonia.

Blue ammonia is a type of clean ammonia made from nitrogen and blue hydrogen derived from natural gas feedstocks through carbon capture and storage technology.

Korea Electric Power Corporation (Kepco) and Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation inked an MOU to expand their cooperation in the nuclear reactor business.

Another MOU was also clinched between Hyosung and ADNOC to jointly invest in Vina Chemicals, Hyosung’s chemical subsidiary, and produce chemical products in the company.

“The two leaders expressed satisfaction over the faithful implementation of the $30 billion investment pledge and lauded the smooth progress in investment cooperation, including the UAE’s review of investment opportunities amounting to more than $6 billion,”

Principal Deputy National Security Adviser Kim Tae-hyo said in a briefing at the presidential office.

On Wednesday, the two countries also inked a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), which will lift tariffs on more than 90 percent of goods traded over the next decade. The UAE is the first Arab country with which Korea clinched a free trade deal.

The Middle Eastern country will especially cut tariffs on Korea’s major export goods like automobiles, auto parts and electronic devices. Korea’s car exports to the UAE reached $483 million in 2023, up 43 percent on year from the previous year.

As of last year, UAE is Korea’s 14th largest trade partner. Bilateral trade hit $20.9 billion last year, a 122 percent surge from 2020. A total of 178 Korean companies were operating in the Middle East country as of 2023.

Yoon and Mohamed also held a bilateral summit in Seoul on Wednesday, expanding cooperation in sectors including investment, energy, nuclear power and defense industry.

Yoon, alongside first lady Kim Keon Hee, received President Mohamed in an official welcoming ceremony at the Yongsan presidential office in central Seoul, on Wednesday morning.

Mohamed is the first UAE president to make a state visit to Korea.

The two leaders inspected the Korean honor guard, viewed a military band and greeted former and current members of the Akh unit.

Korea has deployed the Ahk unit to the UAE since early 2011 to help train the Middle East nation’s special forces and conduct joint military drills.

During the ceremony, the Korean Air Force’s Black Eagles aerobatic team put on an air show to honor the UAE leader’s visit.

The bilateral talks were followed by a state luncheon attended by chiefs of major Korean companies, including Samsung Electronics Executive Chairman Lee Jae-yong, Hyundai Motor Group Executive Chair Euisun Chung, SK Chairman Chey Tae-won and Hanwha Group Vice Chairman Kim Dong-kwan.

The two sides confirmed a consensus on the need to strengthen long-term and strategic defense cooperation, including through the Ahk unit, and expand defense industry cooperation, the presidential office said.

Mohamed arrived in Seoul on Tuesday for the two-day state visit.

Source: Korea JoongAng Daily