By THÉRÈSE MARGOLIS
As South Korea prepares to host the XXIII Winter Olympic Games and four Mexican skiers gear up to compete in Pyeonchang next week, newly arrived South Korean Ambassador to Mexico Kim Sang-il hosted a small press conference at his residence on Tuesday, Jan. 6, to highlight bilateral relations.
“Korea is currently Mexico’s sixth-largest trade partner, with a combined bilateral commercial exchange of over $15.3 billion last year, representing a full third of Korea’s total trade with Latin America,” Kim said.
He also noted that nearly 1,850 Korean companies have capital holdings in Mexico, worth more than $6 billion and providing jobs to more than 100,000 Mexican workers.
And while there is currently no bilateral free-trade accord between the two countries, Kim said that multilateral forums such as the OECD, APEC and MIKTA have helped to foster binational cooperation in a range of fields.
He also said that South Korea is interested in applying for an associated membership in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and finalizing a proposed free-trade agreement with Mexico that has been stalled since its conception in 2012.
Kim likewise made mention of the long history of Korean migration to Mexico, which began in 1905 with the arrival of 1,000 Korean workers to the Yucatan.
By the same token, he recalled a 2005 strategic alliance between his government and Mexico aimed at fostering mutual prosperity, the first such accord signed by Korea with a Latin American country.
Touching briefly on the issue of Seoul’s relations with Pyongyang, Kim said that his government is outstretching its hands to its rouge northern neighbor in the hopes of “negotiating peace and disarmament in the Korean Peninsula, which is the only path that guarantees a better future for the people of North Korea.”