Your Excellency Prime Minister and business leaders from Spain and Korea,
I am glad to meet you all.
Today, Prime Minister Sánchez is sharing his valuable time with us at this forum which has brought together business leaders from both countries. Also joining us are President José Luis Bonet of the Chamber of Commerce of Spain, President Antonio Garamendi of the Spanish Confederation of Employers’ Organizations and Chairman Park Yong-maan of the Korea-Spain Economic Cooperation Council.
I am very pleased that our two countries are holding their Green and Digital Business Forum in Madrid. I am grateful to the Chamber of Commerce of Spain and the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry for arranging this special business event.
Situated far apart on opposite ends of the Eurasian continent, Spain and Korea brought forth the flowering of their unique cultures as bridging nations linking the continent and ocean. The two countries have grown into economic powerhouses ranked near the world’s top 10.
His Majesty King Felipe’s visit to Korea two years ago made it possible for our two countries to deepen friendship and promise close cooperation. It is all the more meaningful that we can carry on that promise today. I hope that this forum will serve as an opportunity to usher in a future of common prosperity based on genuine friendship.
In 1980, our bilateral trade only amounted to US$100 million, but just seven years after the Korea-EU FTA came into effect, that figure has increased to US$5.5 billion. Mutual investments have expanded into more sophisticated areas, including manufacturing, logistics and renewable energy, exceeding US$4.9 billion. Also remarkable are the outcomes of joint entry into third-country markets: In total, our two countries have jointly received US$16.2 billion in orders from 25 countries.
However, these accomplishments are still only the beginning relative to our countries’ potential. Spain is a pacesetter in eco-friendly energy with the percentage of new and renewable energy in its energy mix reaching close to 40 percent. Korea possesses advanced technology in ICT and semiconductors, the centerpiece of the digital economy. If our two countries share the experience and know-how from our respective strengths, we can take off to greater heights.
Today, I would like to emphasize three types of bilateral cooperation that will spearhead the post-COVID-19 era.
The first is cooperating on the low-carbon economy that will allow our countries to be at the forefront in the era of carbon neutrality. With a plan to produce 75 percent of its electricity from new and renewable energy by 2030, Spain is speeding up its efforts to supply electric vehicles and foster a hydrogen economy. Korea is also increasing the utilization of renewable energy sources with the goal of making them account for 20 percent of its power generation by 2030. In addition to becoming the world’s first country to mass produce hydrogen cars, we are taking the lead in the export and supply of eco-friendly future cars.
Businesses from both countries have already actively participated in constructing solar and wind power plants in each other’s nation. The Spanish companies Ocean Winds and EDPR will each invest US$100 million respectively in the building of an offshore wind farm in Incheon and a solar power plant in Goheung. Ocean Winds also participated in the construction of a floating offshore wind farm in waters off Ulsan. I greatly appreciate Ocean Winds and EDPR and hope that mutual investments in new and renewable energy will expand further.
Korea has unrivalled technological prowess when it comes to electric cars, hydrogen vehicles and batteries, and I look forward to our countries creating a new model for success in the area of next-generation mobility as well. Korea will actively support cooperation between companies from both countries.
The second is cooperating to accelerate digital transformation in the digital economy. Through the Digital Spain 2025 agenda and the Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan, Spain has begun to invest in large-scale digital infrastructure. In addition, the country’s smart city construction and e-commerce market growth rates are startling. Korea has the world’s best IT prowess – as evidenced by becoming the first country to commercialize 5G in the world – and we plan to rapidly achieve digital economic innovation by investing 43 billion euros in our Digital New Deal by 2025.
Our two countries are already working together in Incheon International Airport’s air traffic management system and Spain’s e-commerce market. If Spain, a hub of European startups, and young and dynamic Korean startups join forces, they will be able to set a global example for the digital transition.
Startups are the icons of innovation. I hope that exchanges and collaboration between them will also be expanded by the Korea-Spain startup cooperation MOU and that the digital transition will spread rapidly through the entire economy.
The third is cooperating to enhance joint entry into other countries’ markets. The world has injected more than US$13 trillion in fiscal spending to surmount the COVID-19 crisis, and the digital and green infrastructure markets are expected to grow quickly. Spain – a bridgehead for markets in Europe, Africa and Central and South America – and Korea – a bridgehead for the Asian market – can enter the 5G, electric vehicle and new and renewable energy markets together. By doing so, I hope that we will jointly contribute not only to the economic progress of our two countries but also to the building back better of the global economy.
Today, Prime Minister Sánchez and I will agree to elevate our bilateral relationship to a strategic partnership and sign MOUs on Industry 4.0, startups and clean energy cooperation. The Korean Government will communicate more closely with businesspeople and work together to become a reliable supporter.
Madrid is now filled with a fervent enthusiasm for change. Buildings erected with cutting-edge construction methods line Castellana Street, and global IT companies are flocking to the city one after another. I hope that the economies of our two countries will put on digital and green wings to soar higher and stronger from this open and innovative city of Madrid.
Muchas Gracias! Thank you.