Thank you Mr. Chair,
The Honorable Roosevelt Skerrit
Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of Dominica,
The Honorable Keith Rowley
Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago,
Dr. Carla Barnett
Secretary General of the CARICOM,
It is my great honor to participate in the 45th Regular Meeting of the CARICOM Conference of Heads of Government.
I express my sincere gratitude to Prime Minister Skerrit for the invitation and for the warm hospitality rendered to my delegation this week.
I would like to begin by extending my heartfelt congratulations to CARICOM on its 50th anniversary.
CARICOM has made significant contributions not only to the Western Hemisphere, but indeed to the entire world by fostering unity and cooperation among the Caribbean countries for half a century.
Let me remind ourselves of how CARICOM holds a special place in our hearts as a close partner.
Seventy years ago, the Korean War came to a halt leaving the country in ruins.
The prospect of reconstruction was bleak due to the constant threat from the North Korean regime as well as the complete destruction of any viable economic foundation.
However, Korea was fortunate to receive valuable assistance from its friends from all over the world, during and after the war.
Courageous youth from Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago risked their lives to defend a distant country from aggression, while the material assistance from Haiti proved invaluable to the war efforts.
Without their dedication and assistance, we would not have been able to experience the freedom and peace that we enjoy today.
Also, Korea relied on the fisheries in the Caribbean region for the initial growth of its maritime industry.
Thanks to this and other help of the international community, Korea was able to transform itself into an economic powerhouse with high-tech industries and innovative technologies.
As President Yoon Suk Yeol remarked a couple of weeks ago in Paris, Korea wishes to give back to the international community what it has received thus far.
Indeed, Korea understands the essential prerequisites for economic development. We have a wealth of practical experience and valuable know-how in this regard.
It is against this backdrop that we aspire to further strengthen the ties between Korea and the Caribbean countries at all levels encompassing governmental collaborations as well as private sector engagements.
At the government-level, we will fully utilize the High-level Forum on the Korea-Caribbean Partnership as a platform to identify various fields of cooperation.
It will be held in Seoul, this August, along with a special session on development cooperation.
Additionally, we propose to hold a Minister-level Korea-Caribbean Dialogue right here in the Caribbean on an annual basis to continue policy consultations between the two sides.
To demonstrate our strong commitment to CARICOM, we will increase our contribution to the Korea-CARICOM Cooperation Fund fivefold next year.
Moreover, given the pressing need to address climate crisis and secure the conservation and sustainable use of marine resources, we would like to focus on fostering collaboration in the fields of maritime research and capacity building.
As a first step, Korea signed an MOU on Maritime Science yesterday with the Association of Caribbean States (ACS).
And we will establish a Korea-Caribbean Joint Ocean Research Center here in the Caribbean.
As part of the Korea Ocean Economy Initiative, we will invite various partners in the public and private sectors to work together on climate change, sustainable fisheries and protection of the marine environment.
There are many other collaborative initiatives by our public institutions as well:
the sandy shoreline project sponsored by the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA);
the research program on sargassum blooms led by the Korea Institute of Ocean Science and Technology (KIOST);
and the establishment of a Korea-Caribbean Innovation Platform on Agricultural Research.
Furthermore, the KOICA Office in the Dominican Republic will be restructured to expand its scope of engagement to encompass the whole Caribbean region.
We also expect to expand our cooperation in renewable energy between the Korea Energy Agency and the CCREEE by the signing of the MOU on renewable energy and energy efficiency.
Moreover, Korea will continue to share its experience and know-how of economic development, through the Knowledge Sharing Program (KSP) and other training programs.
Last but not least, Korea will encourage more engagement from our private sectors.
Korea’s development experience has illustrated that long lasting, fruitful relations are only possible when government cooperation projects are built upon strong private partnerships.
We proposed to conclude a Framework MOU on Trade and Investment between Korea and CARICOM to build comprehensive channels of dialogue to enhance trade and investment driven by the private sector.
Recent visits by the Chairman of the Korea International Trade Association (KITA), and the upcoming visit by a business delegation led by the Korean Chamber of Commerce later this year, demonstrate our commitment to fostering partnerships and exploring mutual prosperity in the private sector.
Korea is also working closely with the Caribbean Development Bank to explore more opportunities for infrastructure projects in transportation, renewable energy supply, and agriculture.
Excellencies and Distinguished Delegates,
Let me point out that the vision for future cooperation I just laid out is fully aligned with our promise for the World Expo 2030 Busan.
As Korea’s second-largest city, Busan stands as a powerful symbol of the nation’s history, characterized by its remarkable journey towards prosperity.
It is also the world’s second-largest transshipment port, connecting the Pacific and Eurasia.
Busan is a perfect place for the world to get together to share new ideas, visions, technologies, and experiences, in order to explore solutions to the common threats such as climate change, economic inequality and digital divide in the target year of UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Above all, I assure you that the World Expo Busan will not be merely a one-time event;
we are fully committed to continuing cooperation with participating countries on a long-term basis, extending well beyond the closing of the World Expo 2030.
Through the “Busan Initiative,” Korea will share its development experiences with the international community and lead the way in addressing the challenges faced by humanity.
In this regard, I kindly request your support for our sincere efforts to host the World Expo 2030 in Busan.
Excellencies and Distinguished Delegates,
I am so honored and humbled to be Korea’s first Prime Minister to attend the CARICOM Conference of Heads of Government.
We wish to continue to deepen the Korea-CARICOM cooperation in the years to come.
I look forward to working together with the Caribbean countries to navigate through the common challenges – for a better future. Thank you.