By Publisher Lee Kyung-sik, Editor Kevin Lee, Business Editor Joseph Sung
Ambassador Edgar Gaspar Martins of the Republic of Angola in Seoul said, “Angola celebrates her National Day on November 11 marking her winning of independence from Portugal in 1975.” Speaking at a recent interview with The Korea Post at the Embassy of Angola in Seoul, Ambassador Martins said that many Korean companies are contributing to the promotion of cooperation and friendship between the two countries.
He said, “In the recent past, Korean companies, such as Sonangol E.P. and DSME (Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering), have developed several projects in the field of shipbuilding and equipment for the oil industry. Then he cited many other Korean companies actively engaged in the promotion of economic cooperation between the two countries as well as to the economic growth and development in their host country of Angola. They included Sonangol E.P., DSME (Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering), Korea Eximbank, Daedong Industrial Co., Ltd., AKEDA, BK Korea, Kia Motors, Ssangyong Motors, Daewoo Trucks, Castwin, Hyundai Engineering Co., Ltd, Boditech Med Inc.
Details of the interview follow:
Question: What are the latest developments in your esteemed country?
Answer: Angola's National Day is the 11th of November, the date on which Angola's independence is celebrated, proclaimed in 1975, from the Portuguese colonization of almost 500 years. The independence of Angola was achieved thanks to the armed struggle developed by Three Movements, namely:
MPLA (Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola),
FNLA (National Front for the Liberation of Angola),
UNITA (National Union for the Total Independence of Angola).
After National Independence and under the influence of the then-current Cold War, Angola faced a Civil War that lasted from 1975 to 2002. At the moment, the country is experiencing a political environment of peace and harmony.
The 11th of November has served as a reflection on the sacrifices made for the conquest of Independence, for the dissemination of the importance of preserving peace, harmony, unity and valuing the Angolan Homeland.
The National Day is celebrated in Angola and in the Diaspora, with cultural, sporting activities, lectures and actions aimed at promoting the image of Angola abroad.
Therefore, the 11th of November, constitutes the Major Date of all national commemorative dates in Angola.
Q: Please introduce your Head of Government in detail, including major achievements.
A: In Angola, given the country's government system, which is presidential, the President of the Republic is also the Head of Government and the Commander-in-Chief of the Angolan Armed Forces, therefore, he is the Highest Authority of the Angolan State and his name is João Manuel Gonçalves Lourenço. He took office as President of the Republic on September 26, 2017, after elections held in the same year. He is the third President the country has known since independence, proclaimed on 11 November 1975.
Throughout his career, João Manuel Gonçalves Lourenço played several important roles in the Government, in the MPLA Party and in the Angolan Armed Forces. Before his election to President of the Republic, he was Minister of National Defense. João Manuel G. Lourenço is a retired General in the Armed Forces. He speaks fluent English, Russian and Spanish, is married to Ana Dias Lourenço and father of 6 children. He is a person who loves to read, as he always has a book at his disposal, he is also a sportsman, being an excellent chess player.
Among the main achievements of President João Manuel Gonçalves Lourenço, we highlight his commitment to strengthening the Rule of Law in Angola, which are embodied in the increase of freedom of expression and press, in the independence of the Judiciary, in the implementation of measures to combat corruption, economic and financial crimes; in the approval of the Law on the National Bank of Angola, which grants the Angolan central bank greater autonomy; in the adoption of a new penal code and criminal procedure; implementing laws against money laundering and terrorist financing; in the strengthening of international legal cooperation that has allowed the recovery in the country and abroad of movable property and financial assets obtained through corruption. His latest initiative was the proposal, already approved by the National Assembly, for the partial revision of the Constitution of the Republic of Angola.
As part of the fight against hunger and poverty, we highlight the implementation of the PIIM programs, which is the Integrated Plan for Intervention in Municipalities – whose objective is to promote economic and social growth in rural areas, with the recovery and construction of social infrastructure (roads, houses, schools, hospitals...) and the Kwenda program, to provide financial subsidies to the most vulnerable families, with the support of the World Bank. Likewise, we highlight the government's successful strategy for combating and controlling the COVID-19 Pandemic as an important achievement by President João Lourenço.
Q: What is the present volume of bilateral trade, its outlook in the next 12 months?
A: Until 2014, there was a significant increase in trade between Angola and South Korea. This year, Angola was one of the main export/import partners of South Korea in Africa. The value of trade between the two countries was registered at US$ 255.56 million (KITA, 2019). Exports to Angola were US$ 240 million (steel products, automobiles, ships, etc.) and imports were US$ 0.1 billion (oil and various machinery, processed fish products, etc.). Currently, the both sides are working with the perspective of signing, in the short term, an Agreement for the Promotion and Reciprocal Protection of Investments (FIPA) to increase the balance of trade between the two countries.
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: AL The sectors of education, technical-professional, scientific development and innovation, the sector of agriculture, food and agro-industry, the sector of specialized services for public health and basic sanitation, the sector of telecommunications and information technologies, port infrastructure and railways. These are some of the investment areas that we think South Korea has enough knowledge to share in terms of investment with Angola.
Q: What are your competitive products and/over services attractive to Korea? Who are the companies of your country exporting your products to Korea?
A: Of the various products that we believe are attractive to South Korea, we highlight, as an example, the import by South Korean companies and businessmen, namely coffee, fish flour, ornamental stones, marble, manganese, granite and raw materials for the steel industry and semiconductor technologies.
Q: What are the Korean products and services that your country might wish to important?
A: Cooperation for the development of the energy sector is necessary. In doing so, through the provision of photovoltaic solar panels, South Korea would be able to secure key energy resources and Angola would be able to obtain development technology, expand its infrastructure and gain access to necessary electricity installations.
There could also be cooperation for the establishment of infrastructure and expansion of trade and industry. South Korea would enter the Angolan market in areas such as the construction of economic, road and public health infrastructure.
At the same time, South Korea could place itself at the forefront of the preferential cooperation countries for Angola, through the supply of agricultural inputs and implements, light and heavy vehicles, hospital and laboratory equipment, vaccines, various medicines, just to mention these.
Q: Who are the Korean companies actively engaged in bilateral economic cooperation, the SMEs as well as the big companies?
A: In the recent past, Sonangol E.P. and DSME (Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering) have developed several projects in the field of shipbuilding and equipment for the oil industry. Since the establishment of the partnership between the two companies in 1995, several contracts have been signed for the implementation of projects, with particular emphasis on the construction of 14 offshore platforms, 14 oil tankers and 3 LNG ships.
Korea Eximbank approved a proposal for financing in the amount of USD $100,000,000 (one hundred million US dollars) for the first phase of the project called, “Presidential Initiative for Agricultural Mechanization in Angola,” in a partnership between the National Company of Agricultural Mechanization (MECANAGRO-E.P.) and Daedong Industrial Co., Ltd. The project provided tractors, agricultural equipment, construction material, as well as the training of national technicians.
Currently, some companies have been working with the Embassy to fulfill their investment intentions in the Angolan market. Here, AKEDA stands out, an important South Korean association, which has already been in the country a few times and stressed that it places extreme priority on projects developed in Angola.
BK Korea, another conglomerate of companies, stressed that representatives of the brands Kia Motors, Ssangyong Motors and Daewoo Trucks are interested in investing in a vehicle assembly line in Angola, as well as in other branches of activity. There are other South Korean companies that have expressed their interest in establishing partnerships in Angola such as of Castwin, Hyundai Engineering Co., Ltd, Boditech Med Inc, etc., as an example.
Q: Korean people, especially the up-and-coming Korean businessmen need rest and recuperation. What are your tourist attractions?
A: Angola is a country located in the southern region of Sub-Saharan Africa, with a tropical climate and occupying a total area of 1,246,700 km2, encompassing the tropical beaches of the Atlantic, in addition to a system of rivers and deserts that extends to Namibia. The main tourist attractions in Angola are: the Viewpoint of the Moon, the Serra da Leba, the Kalandula Falls and the Binga Falls, in Kwanza Sul, the Black Stones of Pungo Adongo, the Tundavala Rift, the Sassa Caves, in the province of Kwanza Sul, and Zau Evua Cave, in Zaire province, Cangandala National Park, in Malange, Quissama National Park, 75 km south of Luanda, Luanda Island, Mussulo Island, Cabo Ledo and Sangano beaches, the Luanda Marginal, the Fortress of St. Michael, the National Bank of Angola building, the Namibe Desert, among others. For further details, see attached document.
Q: What are the most important festive days in your country? Please elaborate.
A: The National, Local Holidays and National Celebration Dates Act, contains 12 national holidays and 8 national celebration dates. I only highlight, among the dates of national commemoration, the following:
January 1st – New Year's Day – New Year's Eve.
February 4th - Day of the start of the Armed Struggle for the National Liberation of Angola.
March 23rd - Southern Africa Liberation Day. On this day we celebrate the military battle during the war that Angola faced against the apartheid regime that prevailed in South Africa at the time.
Carnival Day (variable date) - Angolan cultural event
April 4th - Peace and National Reconciliation Day – the date marks the end of Angola's civil war and national reconciliation.
Good Friday (dates variable) – Celebration of the Catholic religion that recalls the death of Jesus by crucifixion on the Cross.
November 11th – Achievement of the National Independence of Angola.
December 25th - Christmas and Family Day.
Q: Do you have Honorary Consul(s) in Korea? If yes, how are they contributing to the promotion of cooperation and friendship between the two countries?
A: Right now, Angola does not have any Honorary Consul in Korea. But I would like to inform you that from September 1992 to September 2020, the respected Mr. Kwon Yung-ho was the Honorary Consul of Angola in Korea. It ceased to be so through a measure taken by the Government of Angola, referring to the closure of some honorary consulates in the capitals where there is already a Diplomatic Mission. I emphasize that Mr. Kwon had a brilliant performance in creating the conditions for the opening of this Diplomatic Mission, as well as in the strengthening of political and commercial relations between Angola and Korea.
Q: Your Excellency as the Ambassador of your esteemed country performs the important role of a bridge between the two countries. And the government, business and various other circles in Korea wish to learn more about Your Excellency. Please introduce yourself in detail, including your career, family and hobbies.
A: My name is Edgar Gaspar Martins. I have been Angola's Ambassador to Korea since August 2019, having delivered the credentials to President Moon Jae-in on November 14, 2019. Before being appointed to Korea, I was on a similar mission at the Angolan Embassy in Canada, from 2015 to November 2018. I am a career diplomat having been part of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Angola since 1983, where, among other tasks, I was a technician in the Africa, Middle East and Europe Departments, I held the position of Head of the Africa and Middle East Directorate, in the Bilateral Cooperation Division, and Director of Human Resources, after having completed missions in Portugal and Canada. I have a college degree in International Relations. I am married to Ms. Domingas de Ceita Vaz Pereira Gaspar Martins and I am in Seoul only with my wife. I like to spend leisure time with my family and close friends. I love reading, listening to music, visiting historical and landmark places, both at home and abroad.
Q: Please add whatever other important details which we might have missed from the interview questionnaire.
A: I would like to point out that on October 22, 2021, the III Technical meeting was held in Seoul between the Delegations of the Ministry of External Relations of the Republic of Angola and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea, within the framework of the relaunch and the strengthening of cooperation between the two countries, which served to analyze the current status of bilateral relations, particularly with regard to the degree of implementation of the understandings reached in the II Session of the Technical Economic Commission (Bilateral Commission). We consider it necessary to create, in the near future, a Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Q: What are the major tourist destinations in your country? Please introduce them in detail:
A: The interesting tourist attractions in Angola include the following: