Korea to provide $500m to Pakistan for infrastructure development: Envoy

ISLAMABAD: Korean Ambassador Dr Song Jong-hwan has said that his country’s government is providing some $500 million under the 2015-2017 framework agreement to Pakistan through Economic Development Cooperation Fund (EDCF) for vaious projects from hydropower to road infrastcure.

The Ambassador, in an interview, said that both the countries were enjoying excellent bilateral relations since decades and “we want an economically developed Pakistan in the time to come.”

“It is a matter of great pride for me to say that Pak-Korea ties are reaching new heights. During my tenure as ambassador, the Korean Prime Minister and the Speaker of the Korean National Assembly visited Pakistan in 2014 for the first time in the history,” he added.

The Ambassador said, “God has given Pakistan the second highest mountain in the world as well as the deep sea like Indian Ocean and Pakistan should take maximum benefits from them.” “Pakistan is a blessed country having  unique strategic location, abundant natural resources, talented population, skilled labour and a beautiful fertile land and all these reasons enough to achieve economic development,” Dr Song Jong-hwan said.

He also stated that a number of grant projects were also being undertaken in various parts of Pakistan by Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), aid agency under the Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Narrating the story of the Korean development, the Ambassador said,”We faced a number of challenges like poverty after the independence of Korea having only per capita income even less than $80 in 1960.” Korea, he said, was the first to change from an aid recipient country to donor country in 2010 with per capita income more than $28,000 having trade volume more than $ 1 trillion since 2011.

“This tremendous economic achievement and progress is called the “Miracle of the Han River” and we want similar “Miracle of the Indus River in Pakistan,” he wished. “Korea is ready to help Pakistan in achieving “Miracle of the Indus River” and it is my hope and prayer that this dream with the help of Korea will come true.”

Regarding current level of two-way trade between the two countries, Dr Song said that Korea was 15th largest trading partner of Pakistan at present. During the last two years this trade partnership after touching the two-way trade volume at $1.6 billion in 2012 had witnessed downward slide to $1.3 billion in 2013 and further to $1.17 billion in 2014, he said.

To boost economic ties, he said both the countries had signed a memorandum of understanding on “Trade And Investment Cooperation ” in mid April 2014 during the visit of Prime Minister of Korea to Islamabad and agreed to explore the possibilities of a Free Trade Agreement (FTA).

Regarding interest of Korean companies for investment in Pakistan, the Ambassador said that Korean companies and businessmen were keen to enlarge their businesses in Pakistan. Korean businessmen were frequently visiting Pakistan and were impressed with huge potential of this country in the areas of agriculture, mine/mineral, hydro ?and other alternative energy etc. beside other areas, the Ambassador concluded.  APP