Your Majesty, Prime Minister Stefan Löfven, Business Sweden's CEO Ylva Berg, Korea International Trade Association Chairman Kim Young-ju and business leaders from Korea and Sweden, I am glad to meet you all.
The 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between our two countries is significant and so is the first state visit to Sweden by a Korean president. I am grateful to you all for your warm welcome.
There are many words that come to my mind when thinking about Sweden. They include trust, welfare, education, diversity, equality and nature.
A social culture characterized by mutual trust among the people, businesses and the government; a welfare and education philosophy that advocates for the nation being the people's home (folkhemmet); a culture where gender equality and diversity are respected; and beautiful nature where islands and the sea are harmonized – all of these are the aspects of Sweden that have become the envy of the world.
More impressive than anything else is the power of the social trust that has helped firmly establish a culture of dialogue and compromise through the Saltsjöbaden Agreement. The citizens reciprocated by displaying trust in their nation, which became the people’s home, and their mutual trust turned into the foundation for innovation and inclusiveness.
I hope today’s event will also serve as a good opportunity for Korean businesses to think about the power of trust and to share wisdom from innovation and inclusiveness.
Our two countries have long forged deep relations.
In 1896 when the Joseon Dynasty ruled Korea, Sweden’s Ericsson installed Korea’s first telephone. The grandfather of Your Majesty visited Korea in 1926 and participated in the excavation of Seobongchong (the Tomb of the Auspicious Phoenix) in Gyeongju.
When the Korean War broke out in 1950, Sweden demonstrated its love for humanity by dispatching a medical support unit to Busan. Even after the War, the country helped Korea establish the National Medical Center. In addition, it has been working hard for peace on the Korean Peninsula as a member of the Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission at Panmunjeom.
Moreover, Your Majesty and Prime Minister Löfven visited Korea several times recently. In particular, Your Majesty came to PyeongChang last year, providing a great boost for the success of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics. Once again, I would like to extend my appreciation.
Our two countries have now become crucial economic partners. Bilateral trade has steadily increased since the establishment of diplomatic ties and reached a historic high of US$2.9 billion last year. Bilateral investments have also significantly expanded in recent months.
However, it’s too early to be content. Our two countries have potential for even greater economic cooperation.
Business leaders from Sweden and Korea,
Today, on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of our diplomatic relations, I want to present three directions for economic cooperation to prepare for the future together.
First, we should bolster bilateral collaboration by fostering future industries, including biohealth, eco-friendly vehicles and ICT.
With populations around the world growing increasingly older, demand for pharmaceuticals and medical devices is rising day by day. Notably, the European medical device market is projected to grow 7.4 percent annually until 2020.
Having selected biohealth as one of the core new industries, the Korean Government is now spurring development of innovative new pharmaceuticals and medical devices. Korea's share in the European medical device market stands at 28 percent. Biohealth cooperation between Sweden and Korea can help pioneer new markets and contribute to human health.
The Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca has been actively collaborating with Korean medical institutions to develop next-generation cancer treatments.
I hope that biohealth cooperation between AstraZeneca and Korea will further develop on the occasion of this state visit. I also look forward to such cooperation being strengthened in various other areas going forward.
Our two countries will revise the MOU on healthcare and medical services between Korea and Sweden as part of the efforts to strengthen public-private cooperation in the relevant field. For its part, the Korean Government will render active support so that bilateral investments and cooperation will continue and related projects can succeed.
My expectations run high for cooperation in the field of eco-friendly cars as well.
Recently, Korean battery maker LG Chem signed a 10 trillion won deal with Sweden’s Volvo Cars to supply batteries for its electric vehicles, thereby strengthening cooperation in the next-generation electric vehicle sector. The global eco-friendly car market is growing rapidly. Strategic cooperation between the two companies will serve as an opportunity to dominate the market ahead of others.
Our two Governments are prioritizing eco-friendly energy transition policies. Both Governments will provide active support for cooperation between the businesses of our two countries.
Bilateral ICT cooperation is also promising.
Up to the present, companies from our two countries have been working closely together to develop 5G-related communication equipment. As a result, 5G service was able to be commercialized for the first time in the world.
When large-scale ICT clusters in Sweden's Kista region are combined with Korea's 5G and other ICT, a great synergy will be generated, which will in turn help pioneer new industries.
Our two countries will sign an "MOU on the establishment of an industrial cooperation committee" to form a standing consultative body to continue cooperation in such future industries as biohealth, green cars and ICT.
Second, we should establish a startup ecosystem and strengthen cooperation in science and technology.
Stockholm is known as the world's leading startup mecca; it is also called the "best unicorn factory in Europe."
The Korean Government has also recently expedited startup support by establishing the Ministry of SMEs and Startups as well as by implementing a strategy to promote the second venture boom and a vision for innovative finance.
Next year, the Korea Startup Center will open here in Stockholm. I hope that it will serve as a catalyst for further invigorating exchanges among our two countries’ startups.
Our countries are not holding back when it comes to investment in future-oriented innovative technologies, so much so that the amount that both countries allocate to R&D as a percentage of GDP is among the highest in the world.
Korea has been seeking active R&D cooperation with Sweden through European-led EUREKA, the world’s biggest intergovernmental network for R&D collaboration in the tech field. Last year, Korea became EUREKA’s first non-European partner country, making it possible to expect even more cooperation between our two countries going forward.
Moreover, an MOU on science and technology cooperation, encompassing responses to fine dust and climate change, will be signed during this visit, which is expected to further revitalize our countries’ joint technological research.
Third, we should continue to expand trade and investment.
Our two countries placed high priority on international trade early on. We both have open economies and, at the same time, are competitive in overall manufacturing sectors. Consequently, there’s huge potential for bilateral industrial cooperation.
We agreed to sign an MOU on cooperation in the areas of trade and investment during this visit. I am looking forward to bilateral trade and investment being further expanded through this MOU.
Distinguished business leaders,
Sweden has played an extraordinary role in promoting not only innovation and inclusiveness but also peace.
Though advocating neutrality, Sweden has put itself at risk while striving to mediate conflicts and devoted itself to world peace. It is also playing a significant role as an impartial arbitrator on the Korean Peninsula, where a state of war has never completely ended.
Korea intends to seek exchanges and cooperation with the Eurasian continent and Northern Europe with peace on the Korean Peninsula. When denuclearization and permanent peace are achieved on the Peninsula, economic cooperation between our two countries will expand infinitely. More opportunities will open up for all business leaders here.
I heard of a Viking proverb that says, “A bad friend is far away though his cottage is close. To a true friend lies a trodden road though his farm lies far away.”
Sweden is a true friend who helped Korea in difficult times. Sweden and Korea are far apart on the western- and easternmost ends of Eurasia, but it feels as if we are in close proximity.
Korea will work to become a nation of innovation and inclusiveness while learning from Sweden.
I reflect on our special friendship as our two countries mark the 60th anniversary of diplomatic ties. May business leaders on both sides continue to cooperate and enjoy success and mutual prosperity over the next 60 years.
Tack så mycket! Thank you!