Can South Korean foreign investment further grow the Turkish financial sector?
Business Recorder by Parvez Jabri
ISLAMABAD: The South Korean ambassador to Turkey Sang Kyu-Lee says the Asian nation wants to invest in its host’s financial sector, but added that such investment is not without problems.
Speaking in an interview with Anadolu Agency, Sang Kyu-Lee said that South Korea sees Turkey as a hub for the region, and after expanding in its manufacturing sector it wants to invest in Turkey’s financial sector, too.
He highlighted, however, a problem with the upfront payment that foreign companies are forced to make before they can do business.
“The Turkish Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency (BRSA) requires foreign companies to pay up US$300 million before they can invest,” he said. “I understand that for Turkey’s banking sector it is important to maintain stability, but this requirement for foreign companies is a very big ask.”
He highlighted that if South Korean financial institutions, such as banks and insurance companies, can finance various projects in Turkey it will help the economy grow.
The ambassador expressed satisfaction with economic relations between the two countries, which excelled in 2012 when President Lee Myung-Bak arrived in Turkey on an official visit.
“We agreed to conclude a Free Trade Agreement (FTA), which came into effect on May 1 last year and helped bilateral trade increase a great deal,” he said.
Turkey’s imports from South Korea during January and February increased from US$670 million to US$1.065 billion compared to the first two months of last year, while Turkish exports to South Korea also increased from US$52.3 million to US$57.8 million during the same period.
“In future I believe trade [bilateral] will be balanced,” he said, adding that he also hoped that Korea would continue to import even more Turkish products.
The ambassador added that bilateral cooperation in the defense industry is also increasing thanks to an agreement signed in 2008, and highlighted that indigenously developed systems and South Korea’s armor technology were a major contributor to the increase.
We are both also cooperating in producing a Turkish national tank, he added.
The ambassador talked of South Korea’s nuclear energy industry, underlining that the country has 23 nuclear power plants which provide 30-40 percent of the country’s electricity.
Turkey presently has none, but applications have been made to construct and operate a nuclear plant at Akkuyu in the country’s south, and a second plant at Sinop in the north.
“The priority of any such plant in Turkey is that it has to be safe,” he said. “And then Turkey should follow South Korea’s line to develop its own nuclear power generating technologies.”
“Such supply can help generate Turkey’s economic growth, and help it become one of the 10 largest economies in the world by 2023,” he added.