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Algeria warmly welcomes Korean investments, assures full supportInterview with Ambassador Derragui Mohammed Elamine in Seoul

Ambassador Derragui Mohammed Elamine of Algeria said that his country warmly welcomed Korean investments in his country and that Algeria assuredgovernment to accompany their investments and facilitate their implementation in the Algerian market.

Speaking at a recent interview on the occasion of the National Day of Algeria on Nov. 1, 2016, Ambassador Derragui said that Algeria is related to Korea by a unique strategic partnership since 2006 and that the two countries are working closely and in permanent consultation to further strengthen their relationship that achieved this advanced and exceptional status just in 25 years. Excerpts from the interview follow:

Ambassador Derragui Mohammed Elamine of Algeria is all smiles when the interview with The Korea Post touched on the fast-growing ties of cooperation and relations between the two countries.

Question: Please introduce in detail the national day of your esteemed country
Answer: This year Algeria will celebrate the 62nd anniversary of the launch of the National Liberation Struggle. The 1st of November 1954, after several resistance movements, the Algerian people launched the last rise up against the French colonization to restore the sovereignty of his beloved country using the limited available means.
The Algerian revolution, one of the greatest liberation movements in the 20th century, ended up seven and half years later by getting the national independence in July 03rd, 1962 after the sacrifice of one and half million of martyrs.
The Algerians will always be faithful and pay respect to the spirits of those who scarified their lives to assure that the future generations will live in a People’s, democratic, independent and developed Republic of Algeria.

Q: What are the important developments scheduled between Korea and your country, including the possible visit of your Head of Government to Korea?
A: Algeria is related to Korea by a unique “Strategic Partnership” since 2006 and the two countries are working closely and in permanent consultation to further strengthen their relationships that achieved this advanced and exceptional status just in 25 years.

Under such a dynamic approach, Algeria and Korea held in July this year a bilateral political consultation between the two ministries of Foreign Affairs. The exchanges were fruitful and promoted the mutual understanding and trust between the two partners.

As well, the Algerian Minister of Moudjahidine (Veterans) will be visiting Korea between 14 and 18th November 2016.

I can also mention, the multitude of Algerian delegations participated in several international conferences that the Republic of Korea host this year and the tens of Algerian citizens that benefited from different training and scholarships offered by the Korean government in a variety of fields.

In the economic field, our relations are getting momentum. Other than the trade that had grown constantly these last years, more Korean companies are convinced that Algeria, with its abundant resources and strategic position, is the right place to launch successful and profitable joint investments.

Last year, Hyundai had inaugurated its first assembly line for trucks and buses in the city of Batna in the east of Algeria. Its yearly production capacity will attain 22,000 unities by 2020. A second line for assembling touristic cars was established in the city of Tiaret in the west of Algeria. It will reveal its first car to the public November 1st, 2016. These two projects are conducted within a joint investment with Algerian partners.

We warmly welcome these investments and we invite all the Korean companies to invest in Algeria and we assure them the readiness of my government to accompany their investments and facilitate their implementation in the Algerian market.

In July 2016, the Algerian parliament adopted a new investment act that offers automatically additional benefits (taxes and customs duties cut, exoneration of VAT…) for investors in the privileged activities (industry, agriculture and tourism) and exceptional advantages for investments representing a particular interest for the national economy.

Q: What is the volume of bilateral trade, its outlook in the next 12 months?

A: The bilateral trade between Algeria and Korea achieved 1,7 billion USD in 2015. Algeria is one of the biggest trade partners of Korea in Africa.

The global economic downturn largely affected the bilateral trade between Algeria and Korea since oil, which is the largest product exported by Algeria to Korea, has seen its prices falling sharply last year.

We hope that the volume of bilateral trade will grow and get diversified.

Q: What are your competitive fields of industry and products attractive to Korea and what are the Korean products and services that your country might wish to import?

A: Algeria had heavily invested during the last 15 years in developing its infrastructure and modernizing the means of production in order to accelerate the growth process and enhance the production of goods and services to satisfy the domestic needs and diversify its exports outside the hydrocarbons.

Food, agriculture and petrochemicals products are the most promising exports of Algeria. Algerian wine, figs, dates, potatoes, honey and many other food products are exported to many countries around the world. Also, leather and textile products and pharmaceuticals are making their way to the international markets.

I invite all Korean importers interested in the Algerian market to participate in the 6th Algerian Exports Fair “DJAZAIR EXPORT” that will be hold in May 2017. It offers a unique business opportunity to meet Algerian trusted exporters.

Ambassador Derragui Mohammed Elamine of Algeria (left) poses with Publisher-Chairman Lee Kyung-sik of The Korea Post media after an interview with the latter on the occasion of the National Day of Algeria in November.

Q: Who are the Korean companies (in addition to the Jaebeol business groups) actively engaged in the promotion of economic cooperation between Korea and your country?

A: Over 400 Korean companies, including 23 firms established in Algeria, are doing business in Algeria in different fields: construction, electronics, home appliances, energy, automobile, design and architecture... etc. Big conglomerates like Samsung, Hyundai, Daewoo, LG are present in Algeria for more than 30 years.

Today, numerous small and medium enterprises, encouraged by the successful stories of many Korean companies in Algeria, are exploring the potentialities of the Algerian market.

Q: What are the areas in your country where you want Korean companies to invest and what are the areas where you wish your businessmen to invest in Korea?

A: For the sake of a balanced regional development, the government is giving priority to the development of the southern and the central part of Algeria, known as the highlands. Many tax incentives are offered to investors willing to install their projects in these two regions designated as “Zones to be promoted” and subjected to a “Derogatory regime” where investors can benefit from different taxes cut and a very affordable and low-priced land rent.

This strategy has given its fruits. Many investments, especially in the field of mechanical and textile industries had been launched in the center of the country.

The government had designated and funded the realization of 42 new industrial parks around the country in order to increase the land offer to the investors and boost the dynamic of regional development.

Regarding, the fields with great potential for investors, the three sectors of the industry, agricultural and services are very attractive. The last two Public investments plans, 2005-2009 and 2010-2014 with a budget exceeding 400 billion USD, had laid the foundation of growth by realizing tremendous infrastructures to pave the way for the domestic and foreign investments.

Q: Please introduce your Head of Government in detail, including major achievements.

A: M. Abdelmalek SELLAL has been nominated as Prime Minister by H.E.M Abdelaziz BOUTEFLIKA, President of the Republic in September 2012.

He is 68 years old, married with three children. He had graduated from the National School of Administration in 1974.

He had occupied many responsibilities in the local and central government including as Minister in different departments: interior, youth and sports, public works, transport and water resources. He was also Ambassador of Algeria to Hungary and governor of many Algerian provinces: Adrar, Sidi Bel Abbes, Oran, Boumerdes and Leghouat.

Since his appointment, the Prime Minister has supervised the efforts of rooting the participatory democracy and the amendment of the constitution that brought indisputable democratic progress.

He enhanced also the management of the public administration by eliminating all form of bureaucracy, consolidated the national cohesion and strengthened the national security especially that Algeria in situated in a nevralgic region. He has modernized also the public service sector and ameliorated the quality of services to meet the needs of the Algerian citizens.

In the Economic field, M. SELLAL had supervised the implementation of the Five Years Development Program of 2010-2014 during which 286 billion USD have been invested in developing the infrastructure and improving the livelihood of citizens. The results were very satisfying: stabilizing the rate of inflation at the level of 3,5%, realizing a yearly economic growth of 4%, lowering the unemployment rate to 9% and securing more than 130 billion USD as reserve of exchange.

Q: What is your view of Korea and the Korean people before and after your arrival here?

A: I have visited Korea in 2012 to participate in Korea-Africa Forum as the Director-General of Asia and Oceania of the Algerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and, even that my visit was very short, I have been impressed by the quality of the infrastructure of the Republic of Korea and the hospitality of its people.

After H.E.M. the President of the Republic had put in 2015 his trust in my person to represent Algeria in the Republic Korea I have been in a daily contact with the Korean people and culture. I’m impressed by the genius of the Korean people, its family and group-oriented nature and I admire the proud and the manner in which they promote the Korean culture or the “Han Style” in its different components: the writing (Hangeul), the clothing (Hanbok), the cooking (Hansik), the architecture (Hanok) and of sure the k-drama and the K-pop.

Q: What are the attractive tourist destinations of your country?

A: There are hundreds of attractive sites for tourists in Algeria since my country is very large and rich in term of culture, food, climate, geography, art, food, architecture…etc

The Algerian desert is a paradise in earth where you can find the most beautiful sun rise and magnificent oasis. I highly recommend it for any tourist visiting Algeria. Also, tourists must experience the splendid and the beauty of the Algerian beaches situated on the southern cost of the Mediterranean Sea along 1600 km.

Algeria is rich also of roman vestiges sites as well as the Islamic and ottoman architecture all around the country in the cities of Batna, Tlemcen, Annaba, Algiers…

I invite Korean tourists also to enjoy the experience of the Algerian unique wines and gastronomy.

Q: Please introduce yourself in detail, including your career, family and hobbies.

A: I’m Mr. Mohamed El Amine DERRAGUI, the Ambassador of the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria in Seoul since April 2015. I’m married and I have two children: a boy and a girl.

I started my diplomatic carrier 38 years ago as a Third Secretary in the East Europe Division after having graduated from the National School of Administration.

I have served as the Ambassador of Algeria in Iran, Uganda, Burundi and Rwanda and as first Counselor in the Embassy of Algeria in former Yugoslavia and as the Second Counselor of the Embassy of Algeria in India.

이경식 기자  edt@koreapost.com

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