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Busan to host IDB-IIC board meeting next week

Global financial leaders and experts will gather in Busan next week to discuss developing finance and boosting trade with Latin America and the Caribbean, the South Korean Finance Ministry said Wednesday.

The Annual Meeting of the Boards of Governors of Inter-American Development Bank and Inter-American Investment Corporation, cohosted by the Ministry of Strategy and Finance, will run for four days from March 26 at BEXCO.

Finance Minister Choi Kyung-hwan, who concurrently serves as deputy prime minister, will chair the IDB-IIC Board of Governors.

This year’s major agenda will cover the IDB’s structural reform in the private sector, which has been the bank’s largest reform operation, led by IDB president Luis Alberto Moreno. The mid- to long-term development strategy will also be discussed.

Some 3,000 high-profile financial figures, including finance ministers, central bank governors, financial business tycoons and multilateral organization executives are planning to attend the IDB’s largest development finance summit, an event that bridges 22 nonborrowing and 26 borrowing countries of the bank. The summit includes three sub-events, including the IDB-IIC Youth Forum, Korea-LAC Business Summit and Korea-LAC Knowledge Sharing Forum.

“The IDB-IIC meeting will be a priceless opportunity for exporters and export-seeking economies to build business partnerships and discuss large deals with the LAC,” a South Korean ministry official said, suggesting that the ministry would actively support the companies and financial institutions that wish to arrange meetings with the LAC’s high-profile policymakers.

Due to the lackluster global economy, the LAC market has caught the attention of global trade experts and policymakers, especially manufacturing-strong economies including Korea.

As of 2013, the region had a population of about 600 million and a 6 trillion won gross domestic product, according to World Bank data, pointing at the trade potential of its high-income and purchasing power. In the same period, the region had a per capita gross national income of $9,536, about double the $4,751 of the middle-income non-LAC economies.

The resource-rich LAC is the world’s second-largest oil producer after the Middle East, and produces about one-fifth of the world’s mineral resources.

“The region has rich natural resources and we have the top manufacturing skills,” a Finance Ministry official said, stressing that stronger trade ties could become the new growth momentum for both markets.

Becoming the second Asian entrant to the IDB in 2005, South Korea’s trade size with the LAC more than doubled to $54.2 billion in 2014, from $2.2 billion 10 years earlier, according to government data. During the same period, South Korean direct investment to the region also rose sixfold, from $600 million to $35 billion.

Thanks to the existing and soon-to-come FTAs with the LAC economies, South Korea’s trade surplus in 2014 rose to about $17.6 billion, which translates to about 37 percent of the total trade of 47.2 billion.

South Korea joined the IDB a year after the Korea-Chile free trade agreement went into effect in April 2004. With the enactment of Korea-Peru FTA in August 2011 and the Korea-Colombia FTA soon to go into effect, the Korean government has sought to boost the economy by expanding trade with the region. Seoul is pushing to ink more FTAs in the region, including Mexico, for broader expansion.

“This year’s IDB-IIC will strengthen Korea’s presence in the international economic sphere, in addition to introducing the hallyu culture to increase familiarity with the LAC through both trade and cultural ties,” the Finance Ministry said.

By Chung Joo-won (