- Cooperation in the IT sector can be a cornerstone for the future
Conversation with Mr. Kim Haksung — Consul General of the Republic of Korea in Karachi
PAGE: Tell me something about yourself, please:
Kim Haksung: I have spent most of my diplomatic career in Germany. As a diplomat, I have served more than 17 years in Germany. I have also studied at Freiburg University in Germany. I can speak German language very fluently like a mother tongue. But I am now undoubtedly a Karachi-loyal Korean diplomat. I am realizing that I, once a literature-loving boy on a small island in the southernmost area of the Korean peninsula, am closely bound together with Karachi, our lovely metropolis at Arabian Sea. I am very happy because I can make a tiny contribution to enhancing bilateral relations between our two friendly countries as a consul general of the Republic of Korea in Karachi.
PAGE: How would you comment on trade relations between Pakistan and the Republic of Korea?
Kim Haksung: In spite of good economic and business cooperation between South Korea and Pakistan, trade volume is unfortunately far from our expectations. The trade volume of the last year was only US$1.56 billion. Our export volume to Pakistan is US$1.12 billion. Pakistan’s export volume to our country was only US$440 million. Unfortunately, we have a trade imbalance. Pakistan is facing a trade deficit with our country. To get trade volume increased and to get the trade imbalance improved between both countries, it is important to diversify trade items. It is required that both countries must find common grounds to work together to enhance business activities.
PAGE: Could you tell us about the Pakistanis working and studying in the Republic of Korea?
Kim Haksung: More than 15,000 Pakistani people are now living in our country. Most of them are working in the factory or farms. Under the full protection of advanced labor regulations and practices of our country, they are making a great contribution to our economy. They are very satisfied with their working conditions and good income.
I know that the Pakistani community in Korea is very active and healthy. About 1,500 Pakistani students are now studying in Korea. Most of them are enrolled in master or doctoral courses of business and engineering school in the world-class universities. They are completely satisfied with world-class academic level in Korea, and they are keeping unforgettable memories of our country. Especially for Pakistan’s female university students our country is an ideal place for further academic achievements because South Korea is a very safe and highly advanced country.
PAGE: What is your perspective on the Free Trade Agreement between Pakistan and the Republic of Korea?
Kim Haksung: I think FTA can be a weapon for enhancing bilateral trade relations. South Korea signed FTAs with 52 countries including ASEAN member states. FTA must be a mutual benefit. But it is not so easy to satisfy both parties, because each country has different economic and industrial backgrounds and environments.
For the discussion of FTA, many factors and circumstances must be taken into consideration. It is not a simple issue, and it takes time. First of all, businessmen in both countries must strive to enhance business activities and increase trade volume.
PAGE: What kind of business opportunities are there in the Republic of Korea for Pakistani entrepreneurs?
Kim Haksung: In order to promote exports from Pakistan to South Korea, I think that it is important to have a suitable business counterpart. In our country, small and medium-sized are very active and technically highly advanced. I am sure that there is room for business cooperation. I will also strongly recommend Pakistani businessmen to take part in various industrial exhibitions in Korea. They are providing good opportunities for Pakistani businessmen. Our country is a leading powerhouse in the IT sector. Pakistan’s export volume of the IT industry in 2021 and 2022 was US$ 2.1 billion and US$ 2.6 billion respectively. Pakistan has also great demand and potential in the IT industry. The mutual cooperation in the IT sector between our friendly countries can be a cornerstone for the future.