The following are excerpts from an interview with Ambassador Mohammed El Amine Derragui of Algeria in Seoul.—Ed.
Question: What are the most important and other major policies of your country in the New Year?
Answer: The Algerian Government will continue to apply sound policies that improve the predictability and transparency, resulting in a significant growth outside hydrocarbons and strengthening the country’s external financial position. The economic diversification is considered as paramount through investment promotion, industrial policy, agriculture and rural renewal and the construction of infrastructures (public works, water resources, environment, and services). In the field of socio-economic development, Algeria achieved the majority of the Millennium Development Goals adopted by the United Nations.
Q: What are the major areas of cooperation between your country and Korea in the New Year?
A: Algeria is related to Korea by a “Strategic Partnership” since 2006 and the two countries are working closely and in permanent consultation to further strengthen their relationships.
I can mention, the multitude of Algerian delegations participated in several international conferences that the Republic of Korea host each 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.
In this framework, we warmly welcome Korean companies for joint investments with Algerian partners and we assure them the readiness of the Algerian Government to accompany their investments and facilitate their implementation in the Algerian market.
Q: What is the volume of bilateral trade, its outlook in the next 12 months?
A: The bilateral trade between Algeria and the Republic of Korea achieved 2 billion USD in 2017. Algeria is one of the biggest trade partners of Korea in Africa. We are expecting the same amount of trade for 2018.
We hope that the volume of bilateral trade will grow and get diversified.
Q: What are your competitive products and services attractive to Korea and what are Korean products and services that your county might wish to import from Korea?
A: Huge programs for developing the mining sector are being developed in Algeria since Algeria’s soil is rich in many minerals (zinc, iron, gold, lead, phosphates...). In this field, the Korean companies are welcomed to invest in these new programs.
The Korean companies are also welcomed to invest in agricultural products.
Q: What are the areas in your country where you want Korean companies to invest in and what are the areas where you wish your businessmen to invest in Korea?
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.
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 an amount exceeding 400 billion USD, had laid the foundation of growth by realizing tremendous infrastructures to pave the way for the domestic and foreign investments.
For the time being, we are more interested that the Algerian business community invests first in Algeria’s economy.
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 Sahara, which is the largest desert in the world, is a paradise on 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 in detail your President.
A: HE Mr. Abdelaziz BOUTEFLIKA, President of the Republic since 1999, plays a paramount role in national policy-making in Algeria politics. Freedom fighter against French colonialism, Mr. Abdelaziz BOUTEFLIKA joined the National Liberation Army in 1956 when he is only 19 years old and is responsible for the southern region (Mali front) in 1960 after having been active in the Joint Staff of the Liberation Army. After Independence, Mr. Abdelaziz BOUTEFLIKA is appointed at 25 years old Minister of Youth, Sports and Tourism, then he became Minister of Foreign Affairs of Algeria, position that he will occupies till 1978.
During his tenure as Minister of Foreign Affairs (1963-1978) under the patronage of the President Houari BOUMEDIENE, Mr. Abdelaziz BOUTEFLIKA will make of Algeria one of the most active countries in Maghreb, the Arab world, Africa and the Third World and the privileged dialogue partner of the big powers. In April 1999, Mr. Abdelaziz BOUTEFLIKA is elected President of the Republic.
The main orientations of the Government in Algeria are decided by HE Mr. Abdelaziz BOUTEFLIKA, President of the Republic. Through the Civil Concord (1999) and the Charter for Peace and National Reconciliation (2005), both adopted by a popular referendums, the President BOUTEFLIKA restored peace and stability in Algeria who suffered during many years from a bloody terrorism.
Q: Please introduce yourself in detail to include 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 40 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, as first Counselor in the Embassy of Algeria in Yugoslavia (and as Chargé d’Affaires to the Federal Republic of Yougoslavia, Serbia and Montenegro at that time) and as Secretary at the Embassy of Algeria in India.