Nigeria has displaced South Africa as the major trading partner of the Republic of Korea on the African continent, Director, Korea-Africa Foundation, Lyeo Woon-ki has said.
Lyeo, who disclosed this in Abuja at a media parley, explained that trade between Nigeria and Korea was two billion dollars in 2021 but that the present figures indicate that the trade volume for 2022 has reached over $1.5 billion as of June this year which surpasses the trade volume between Korea and South Africa.
“The trade volume between Nigeria and Korea is bigger than between Korea and South Africa. In 2021, the figure was around $2 billion and by the half of this year, the figure has gone beyond $1.5 billion. All of these happened despite the COVID-19 pandemic and limited trading. We are sure it will be about two billion dollars by the end of the current year. The balance of trade between both countries is almost equal,” he stated. He added that the Korea-Africa Foundation was established to foster business and cultural cooperation between Korea and the continent.
Lyeo lamented that while Koreans are eager to come to Nigeria for business and cultural activities, the news about the country that is available to the Korean public is unpalatable.
He said: “Unfortunately, the news out there about Nigeria portrays the country as a dangerous place to live. However, my experience is completely different from what I read before coming. I have met a lot of Nigerians these last few days since I came into the country and I can say they are warm and receptive people. Nigeria needs to do a lot more to portray the image of Nigeria abroad.”
Lyeo disclosed that the Foundation will collaborate with the Nigeria Chamber of Commerce and Industry with a view to deepening trade cooperation between the two countries. On his part, the Ambassador of Korea to Nigeria, Kim Young-Chae, described Nigerian youths as vibrant and technology savvy.
“Last year, the embassy here in Abuja sponsored some children to Lagos to interact with Korean companies such as LG and Samsung to see first-hand what they do. We want Nigerian youths to understand our culture while their counterparts also understand the culture of Nigeria. This will foster understanding and cooperation between the people of both countries. We are going to replace that this year as part of efforts to showcase what the embassy of Korea is doing here in Nigeria,” he said.
Young-chae revealed that Nigeria and the Korean Republic are working on signing a military pact to boost the security of Nigeria. He said: “Korea has emerged as one of the strongest military formations in the world. The feat was achieved basically as a survival strategy because of the nature of our existence. I think it will be good if Nigeria and the Korean Republic strike an agreement on military cooperation. Indeed, the Nigerian Minister of Defence had paid a visit to Seoul recently in that regard. I hope this is done very soon as Nigeria continues to battle Boko Haram and banditry.”
By Collins Olayinka