By Cecilia Heesook Paek
SEOUL – Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa concluded a tour of Asia Friday by issuing a call for greater energy cooperation and urging South Korea for technology transfers that help spur Ecuador’s development.
Correa’s one-week tour included his first visit to Japan – focused on promoting political dialogue – and a trip to South Korea that was aimed at drumming up investment in Ecuador’s energy and oil sectors.
The president said it is “highly likely” that the SK Group will take part in Ecuador’s $12.5 billion Pacific Refinery project.
The two countries’ economies are complementary because “South Korea doesn’t have oil but it has refineries, while in Ecuador the opposite is true,” Correa told South Korean news agency Yonhap.
On the last day of his visit to Seoul, Correa took part in an investment-promotion seminar and met with South Korea’s four main business federations to tout investment opportunities in Ecuador and the country’s political stability.
He said foreign companies will find a stable legal framework in Ecuador, adding that contracts should include provisions for the transfer of technology so that these companies help develop new skills that drive national development.
Correa said that Ecuador’s new constitution, approved in 2008, contains clear rules for attracting foreign investment and that the government will approve tax exemptions for foreign firms that invest in designated development zones.
The president, a U.S.-trained economist, said his country has “profitable projects” that will be good business for South Korean companies while also allowing Ecuador to develop its economy further.
The Ecuadorian leader and South Korean counterpart Lee Myung-bak agreed to strengthen bilateral cooperation in the energy sector and in infrastructure.
Lee asked for the Ecuadorian government’s support in enabling South Korean firms to participate in infrastructure and refinery projects in the South American country.
South Korean companies are interested in participating in the Pacific Refinery, which will have the capacity to process 300,000 barrels of crude per day and is expected to come on stream around 2014.
Correa on Thursday visited the facilities of corporate powerhouses such as Hyundai Heavy Industries and SK Energy to observe examples of South Korean development that are applicable to Ecuador. EFE