Czech Republic and South Korea sign strategic partnership agreement

Bohuslav Sobotka, photo: CTK

The Czech Republic and South Korea on Thursday upgraded their business ties, signing a strategic partnership agreement. In the course of his working visit to the country, Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka expressed the hope that business ties could expand beyond the sphere of car manufacture, and cited defense, infrastructure and nuclear power as promising areas of cooperation.

Bohuslav Sobotka, photo: CTK
The Czech Republic has been actively looking to expand its business interests outside the European Union on which it is heavily dependent export-wise, and South Korea is high on the list of strategic partners with significant investment potential. Prague has actively courted investment from Seoul and South Korea is already the country’s third biggest business partner outside the EU.

In 2014 the Czech Republic was successful in attracting two big investment projects with Hyundai Mobis and Nexen Tire announcing plans to build factories in the country. The overall investment amounts to 27 billion crowns and should provide close to 2,000 new jobs.

Following talks with South Korean officials and business leaders the Czech prime minister outlined possible new areas of cooperation saying that a country of 50 million inhabitants afforded ample opportunities for Czech food-processing companies, particularly for Czech beer brewers. The size of the South Korean army and the country’s generous defense budget are perceived as an opportunity for Czech technological companies and companies engaged in the defense industry.

Some entrepreneurs, who were with the business delegation accompanying the prime minister, have already clinched deals. Porcelain manufacturer Cesky porcelain Dubi signed a contract with the South Korean company Dohkwang Trading Corporation under which it is to export 5 million dollars worth of porcelain to the country over the next five years.

Meanwhile, South Korean companies are interested in participating in the construction of high-speed rail and other transportation networks in the Czech Republic and the two sides have already signed an agreement on cooperation in rail transportation. A high-speed rail link from Berlin through Prague, Brno and Vienna to Budapest is in the pipeline with construction expected to begin within the next five years. Officials likewise discussed the Czech Republic’s energy policy, with South Korea expressing interest in participating in a possible tender on the expansion of the Temelin nuclear power plant.

Underscoring the drive for closer business ties, the state export support agency CzechInvest on Wednesday opened a new office in South Korea.