The agreement was signed by Abdullah Al Saleh (R), undersecretary of the Ministry of Economy, and Kim Ki-mun, chairman of the Korea Federation of SMEs. Photo: Ministry of Economy, UAE

The UAE and South Korea have signed a memorandum of understanding to strengthen the partnerships between SMEs in the two countries and develop entrepreneurship.

Both nations will promote a conducive business ecosystem and foster cooperation that will support SMEs and expand relations between their private sectors, the UAE Ministry of Economy said in a statement on 21 April.

“The UAE attaches great importance to the development of the SMEs sector as one of the main pillars of the country’s new economic model and its strategic plans for the future in line with the principles and goals of the 50,” Ahmad Al Falasi, Minister of State for Entrepreneurship and SMEs, said, referring to the Emirates’ Projects of the 50 campaign.

“The development of international partnerships is a major focus area of the UAE’s efforts in this regard, and South Korea is a major partner for the UAE in our efforts to develop entrepreneurship.”

The agreement aims to boost the economic partnership between the two countries to a minimum of US$20 billion in the next three to five years, up from about US$9 billion currently. Negotiations are expected to be finalised by the end of this year.

Al Falasi said that the UAE is keen to strengthen cooperation with South Korea in all fields, adding that the promotion of entrepreneurship, cooperation in supporting the SMEs ecosystem, and the expansion of cooperation between the private sectors of the two countries are the major goals of the partnership.

He added: “The signing of the MoU will help us strengthen the role of entrepreneurs and SMEs in the two countries in fields of economic cooperation and facilitate the development of partnerships, especially in the sectors of health technology and smart agriculture. It will also drive the growth of trade exchanges and stimulate the flow of quality investments in the fields of innovation, research and development.”

Under the terms of the MoU, the two parties will jointly design flexible partnership programs during the next phase, through which Emirati and Korean SMEs will be able to enter the markets of the two countries more easily and effectively.

They will also cooperate in the exchange of knowledge regarding the development of programmes, policies, and legislation related to the entrepreneurship sector in the two countries. The MoU will also contribute to increasing the linkage between SMEs in the UAE and their counterparts in South Korea as suppliers and trading partners with a competitive advantage.

The two parties also agreed to develop a joint platform to support SMEs with the aim of enabling them to identify promising investment opportunities in each other’s markets. They also established mechanisms for cooperation to support and exchange market research and information, enabling the assistance of experts with regard to supporting SMEs, mutual participation in international events related to the entrepreneurship sector, and benefit from the infrastructure supporting entrepreneurship and its development.

The entrepreneurship and SMEs sector account for 99 percent of the total companies in South Korea, while the sector in the UAE accounts for 98.5 percent of the private sector.

In an official visit to the UAE in January, South Korean President Moon Jae-in discussed economic, trade, and cultural cooperation between the two countries with Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, in a move to deepen their strategic partnership.

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