His Majesty King Felipe VI of Spain is scheduled to make an official visit to Seoul this year and many important events are being prepared for this occasion. This was disclosed at a recent interview with Ambassador Gonzalo Ortiz of Spain in Seoul.
He also said that last year Korea’s imports from Spain totaled some US$2.7 billion and exports over US$3 billion and that the performances will even be better in the New Year. Then he predicted that Korea and Spain will experience a very healthy GDP growth around 3% and the imbalances of Spanish economy are already converging to EU standards. Details of the interview follow.?Ed.
Question: What are the important events scheduled between Korea and Spain this year? Any plan of visit of important delegation to Korea from Spain this year?
Answer: The visit of HM the King of Spain to Korea, the first of a Spanish Head of State in 20 years, is scheduled for 2016 and it will be our most important event. The Embassy is now working in many areas to take advantage, but the cultural, technological and economic cooperation will receive a big impulse for the future.
The Spanish Trade Commission also expects more than 10 delegations from Chambers of Commerce and Economic Associations with Spanish companies and increase cooperation in consumer and technological sectors. Our traditional country exhibitions for wine (November) and fashion (February and July) will keep ahead looking for new Korean firms looking for business with Spain.
During 2016, we also expect more than 200 companies from Spain visiting Korea for business agendas or trade fairs in many different sectors: automotive, computer games, design and furniture, engineering and construction, etc.
Q: What is the outlook of increased trade and economic cooperation between your country and Korea in the New Year?
A: I believe the year 2016 will enhance cooperation, trade and investments between Spain and Korea. In 2015, imports from Spain will reach about 2.7 bn. dollars and exports to Spain will be over 3 bn. dollars. This is already an important advance from previous years before the FTA agreement and it should get even better along this year. Both economies, Korea and Spain will experience a very healthy GDP growth around 3% and the imbalances of Spanish economy are already converging to EU standards. Spain is exporting cars to Korea as our main product followed by natural gas, pork meat, pharma, fashion, olive oil and wine. Consumer goods from Spain are making inroads in Korean market and Spanish gastronomy is already very popular in many restaurants.
Q: What is the focal point of the New Year Message of the Head of Government of your country?
A: The Spanish King Felipe VI appealed for dialogue and unity in his Christmas Eve message. In his televised speech on December 24th, the King said he hoped “the desire for understanding and a fraternal spirit, which are typical of this season, always be present among us”. He encouraged the Spaniards in a spirit of harmony and solidarity to overcome the current challenges.
Q: What are the major events scheduled in your country in the New Year?
A: In 2016, the world will pay tribute to Miguel de Cervantes on the 4th Centenary of his death. The commemoration of the author of Don Quijote is a great opportunity to visit Spain, and participate in hundreds of cultural activities and festivals of cities and villages all around our country. On top of that, San Sebasti?n in northern Spain will be European Cultural Capital. In Korea, we will increase our promotion efforts related to arts, culture and the Spanish language.
Tourism will continue to be a key element in the relationship between our two countries. In 2015, we have received more than 300,000 Korean visitors and this figure might increase again according to forecasts from the Tourism Ministry. The direct flight from Korean Air to Madrid (since 2012) is one of the main reasons for this success, but also Spain has a lot offer to Korean tourists: history, culture, arts and religion similarities.
Q: What is the New Year Plan of your Excellency?
A: The Embassy hopes to carry on with different initiatives undertaken in the recent years. Particularly with the Political Dialogue between the two Governments, the consolidation of the newly created Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Korea, and the expansion of the bilateral cooperation in the area of science, research, technological joint ventures, and telecommunication and information industries. Another promising area is defense cooperation.
2016 will be a very demanding year for Spain, with the assumption of a new Government, and the setting of a new wave of modernization reforms.