Latvia intends to increase cultural exchange programs with Korea in earnest in the years to come. Since the opening of Latvia's embassy in Seoul two years ago, bilateral relations between Latvia and Korea have improved significantly especially in tourism and trade, said Amb. Peteris Vaivars of Embassy of
the Republic of Latvia who is also accredited to Malaysia and the Republic of Singapore.
He noted that the bilateral relations between Korea and Latvia are growing closer and stronger in economic areas with increase of Korean business presence in Latvia and the growing number of Latvian exports to Korea, which increased by 15 percent and reached 50 million euros in 2016 and is showing rapid growth in recent years.
He was speaking with a group of South Korean leaders from local cultural oommunity on March 9 at his embassy to discuss ways of promoting people to people exchange programs in cultural and tourism areas. Among those who joined the meeting were Ms Min Ji-young director of Ariart Performing Art Troupe,
James Cho and Ms Park Jiwoo.
"Latvia is happy to welcome more Korean tourists, whose numbers are growing 10-15 percent annually," Amb. Peteris Vaivars said.
Since the establishment of the Seoul office, numbers of Latvian artists visiting Korea to perform here are on the increase. They include musicians such as Mischa Maisky and Gidon Kremer.
"This year in particular we observed an increase of the number of Latvian athletes coming to Korea in relation to the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics," the ambassador said.
More recently, South Korean Defense Minister Song Yong-moo had talks with Latvian Defense Minister Raimonds Bergmanis on Feb. 23, 2018 to beef up military and arms
industry partnerships between the two sides.Two ministers agreed that the easing of tensions in Korea through the Olympics and inter-Korean dialogue will be conducive to peace and stability in Northeast Asia. Latvian minister attended the closing ceremony of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics.
President Raimonds Vjonis of Latvia opened the Latvian-South Korean Business Forum in Seoul on 14 February 2018. He urged entrepreneurs to use excellent bilateral relations between the two countries in order to pursue the development of economic partnership by joint effort, especially in the field of research and innovation.
“There are preconditions for closer cooperation between Latvia and South Korea in research and innovative technologies, as well as in trade, investment,tourism, education, culture, transport, and logistics. This business forum is expected to serve as a platform not only for establishing new contacts but also to lay the foundation for long-term cooperation projects,” noted Raimonds Vjonis.
The signing of the European Union-South Korea Free Trade Agreement, as well as the opening of embassies in both countries, has fostered economic cooperation between countries by experiencing rapid growth exactly in recent years. During this period, the trade turnover of Latvia and South Korea increased significantly, with exports doubling from Latvia and reaching 48 million euros. Currently, the companies from Latvia representing timber industry, mineral processing, building materials, and pharmaceuticals are already successfully operating in South Korea. Latvian entrepreneurs have good development opportunities in South Korea, especially in the timber industry, information technology, as well as in food industry (milk and dairy products, eggs and egg products). Acceleration of the food product certification from Latvia in South Korea is a significant prerequisite for the more rapid growth of food exports from Latvia to this country.
A wide range of business delegations participates in the Latvian-South Korean Business Forum. There are 22 companies representing Latvia at the Forum in sectors such as timber industry, food production, information technology, financial technologies, marketing services, glass coatings, and transport. South Korea is represented by more than 60 government representatives, members of industry associations and companies in sectors such as mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, IT, biomedicine, pharmaceuticals, food production, and logistics.
During the Forum, a Memorandum of Understanding between the Investment and Development Agency of Latvia and the South Korean Importers’ Association on the promotion of bilateral economic cooperation and a Memorandum of Understanding between the Investment and Development Agency of Latvia and Gyeonggi Province of South Korea on cooperation in technology transfer and start-up ecosystem development.
Visit by President of Latvia Raimonds Vjonis to the Republic of Korea is the first visit of a top official from Latvia to this country.