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South Korea, UAE sign deal to slash import duties at leaders’ summit

POOL VIA REUTERS
                                United Arab Emirates President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, right, and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol inspect South Korean honour guards during a welcoming ceremony at the Presidential Office in Seoul.
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POOL VIA REUTERS

United Arab Emirates President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, right, and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol inspect South Korean honour guards during a welcoming ceremony at the Presidential Office in Seoul.

SEOUL >> South Korea and the United Arab Emirates signed a trade pact on Wednesday to sharply cut import duties at a summit of their leaders that pledged closer business and investment ties.

Host South Korea welcomed the UAE’s President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan with a traditional honour guard and a flypast of air force jets.

“The special bond between the two leaders serves as an opportunity to deepen and advance the two countries’ special strategic partnership,” the office of President Yoon Suk Yeol said in a statement.

The summit, which follows Yoon’s state visit last year to Abu Dhabi, focused on energy and defence, as South Korea seeks to tap the investment potential of the energy-rich Gulf state.

In its statement, Yoon’s office said the UAE reaffirmed last year’s pledge of $30 billion in investment for South Korean businesses, in areas from nuclear power and defence to hydrogen and solar energy.

The two sides also signed an agreement to boost investment flows into future-focused sectors in South Korea’s economy, it added.

The Abu Dhabi National Oil Company signed a letter of intent for a South Korean company to build at least six LNG carriers valued at about $1.5 billion, it said.

The industry ministers formally signed a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) agreed in October that will remove all tariffs on South Korean arms exports when it is ratified, South Korea said.

The UAE will also drop import duty on automobiles over the next decade, during which South Korea’s tariffs on crude oil imports are to be removed.

The deal will eventually scrap tariffs on more than 90% of the imports of both.

On Tuesday, Sheikh Mohammed met the leaders of some of South Korea’s top conglomerates including Jay Y. Lee of Samsung Electronics, SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won and Kim Dong-kwan of Hanwha Group, which has emerged as a major defence contractor.

No new arms deal was unveiled, but Yoon’s office said both aim to boost long-term co-operation of their defence industries.

South Korea has signed a series of global defence equipment contracts as part of its plans to become the world’s fourth-largest defence exporter by 2027.

One such recent deal involves Poland, which seeks to bolster its defences as a close neighbour of Ukraine, which is at war with Russia.

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