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Korean businesses embark on new chapter of expansion into Latin American market 2023-11-21

The Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Energy (MOTIE) held the 27th Korea-Latin America Business Forum in Seoul, on November 20, to support the expansion of Korean enterprises into the Latin American market. Co-hosted by MOTIE, the Korea International Trade Association (KITA), the Korea Institute for International Economic Policy (KIEP), the Korean Council on Latin America & the Caribbean, and the International Construction Association of Korea, the event was attended by diplomatic delegations from 18 Latin American countries based in Korea, along with about 150 companies and institutions related to Latin America, totaling around 250 participants. 

Since its inception in 1997, the Korea-Latin America Business Forum has taken place annually, becoming Korea's largest event focused on Latin America. It functions as a key venue for assessing the investment climate in Latin America, increasingly recognized as a vital economic ally for Korea, and for exploring opportunities for Korean businesses into the Latin American market.

Latin America is a massive market with a population of about 650 million accounting for about 8% of the global population. The Korean government has actively sought to improve trade and investment for Korean enterprises through the expansion of free trade agreement (FTA) networks, starting with Chile in the 2000s. Over the past 20 years, trade between the two sides has increased five-fold, and Korean direct investment in Latin America has increased 40-fold. 

Recently, efforts have been made to strengthen industry and energy cooperation through the establishment of the Trade and Investment Promotion Framework (TIPF). 

At the forum, around ten experts from Korea and abroad, discussed the latest economic landscape in Latin America, promising areas of cooperation, and strategies for engaging in projects through multilateral development banks (MDBs).

Park Deok-yeol, MOTIE’s Director General for Cross-Border Investment Policy, highlighted in his welcome address the successful collaboration with Latin American countries, notably in establishing FTA networks and facilitating the entry of Korean companies. He stressed the Government's continued commitment to providing policy support for the Korean businesses' expansion into Latin America. 

KITA organized a one-on-one business consulting session in conjunction with the forum, where experts provided consultations on how to utilize FTAs, obtain overseas certifications, and protect intellectual property rights, which can be challenging for SMEs in their local expansion efforts.