The official economic mission to South Korea, presided over by HRH the Hereditary Grand Duke and led by the Minister of the Economy, Franz Fayot, opened on 28 November with the participation in two key events - the Korea Space Forum and the Luxembourg-Korea Business Forum - as well as a meeting with President Seok-Youl Yoon and the signing of two memoranda of understanding.
Solus Advanced Materials
The day began with a business lunch with the management of Solus Advanced Materials, the parent company of Circuit Foil since 2020. For Solus Advanced Materials, this was the first meeting with official representatives of the Luxembourg government, following the takeover initiated during the pandemic. Circuit Foil Luxembourg uses an electroplating process to produce copper foil, mainly for the manufacture of printed circuits for high-tech products, such as connected devices, sensors in cars and 5G antennas, a market that is growing rapidly. The company has a 2% share of the global copper foil market, but has a market share of almost 70% for the manufacture of 5G-related products. Founded in Wiltz in the early 1960s, Circuit Foil had been a subsidiary of South Korea's Doosan Corp since 2014. The company now has 357 employees in Luxembourg and produces around 10,000 tonnes of copper per year.
Korea Space Forum
The delegation was then invited to attend the official opening of the Korea Space Forum, which is taking place from 28 to 29 November at the JW Marriott. The event is organised annually and this year's main theme is "Korea's challenge to realize the space economy".
As a sign of the Korean government's increasing focus on the space sector, President Yoon Suk-Yeol attended the event and presented his roadmap for the development of the space economy. Korea, which currently has around 100 space companies in its ecosystem, aims to become one of the top 5 space nations by 2035 and has increased its budget by 19% in 2022.
Prior to the official opening academic session, the Minister of the Economy, Franz Fayot, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Minister of Science and ICT of the Republic of Korea, Lee Jong-Ho, with a view to strengthening the two countries' cooperation in the exploration and use of space resources for peaceful purposes. In particular, the agreement aims to facilitate the exchange of information, personnel and expertise in the fields of space science, technology and applications, and is expected to encourage concrete cooperation activities.
Luxembourg and Korea share many common ambitions in the development of the sector, particularly in the field of space resources. Contacts between the two on this subject have intensified over the past years, and in particular since 2017. This Memorandum of Understanding should further strengthen the collaboration between public and private partners of both countries.
At the opening of the forum, the Minister of the Economy, Franz Fayot, stated: "Luxembourg and South Korea have a long-standing relationship, and I am delighted to see it strengthened even further in the space sector through the signing of this Memorandum of Understanding. We share common ambitions in the peaceful exploration and use of space resources, so I am confident that we will be able to strengthen our collaboration at many levels, both between private and public actors, for our common benefit."
At the opening of the Korea Space Forum, President Seok-Youl Yoon personally greeted HRH the Hereditary Grand Duke and the Minister of the Economy.
Luxembourg-Korea Business Forum
The event was followed by the Luxembourg-Korea Business Forum, organised by the Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce, with the participation of Young Lee, the Korean Minister for SMEs and Startups, with whom a bilateral courtesy meeting took place prior to the forum.
During the opening ceremony, HRH the Hereditary Grand Duke, Franz Fayot, Minister for the Economy, and Young Lee, South Korean Minister for SMEs and Startups, recalled the strong historical ties that unite the two countries, their similarities, and the need to strengthen and develop new partnerships at an institutional, economic and academic level.
During his speech, the Minister of the Economy, Franz Fayot, insisted on the importance of working with countries that share the same values and long-term objectives and why South Korea is a natural partner for Luxembourg in this context. Carlo Thelen, CEO of the Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce, detailed how Luxembourg has started the transition to a digital economy, and its excellence in sectors such as logistics, data, space industry, health and eco-technologies. Carlo Thelen stressed that: "We are not only strong business partners, but we are also both innovation pioneers and leaders in the high-tech and digitalisation sectors."
After the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between Luxinnovation, Luxembourg's national innovation agency, and the Global Commercialization Center of Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST GCC), Mario Grotz, Director General of DG Industry, Research and New Technologies, presented Luxembourg's roadmap for a competitive and sustainable economy by 2025. Then, the Korean policy for the globalisation of SMEs and Startups was highlighted by the Korean Minister, Young Lee.
Round tables on smart city solutions and future mobility completed the event, which gathered around 200 participants.
This first day ended with an official reception, organised by the Luxembourg Embassy in close cooperation with the Chamber of Commerce and the Luxembourg Trade and Investment Office in Seoul, in the presence of Jin Park, Korean Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Several speakers took the floor to highlight the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations and the excellent relations between the two countries on many levels. In his speech, HRH the Hereditary Grand Duke paid special tribute to the 85 Luxembourg volunteers who fought with the Korean forces and stressed how essential it is to keep their memory alive. This is why two touch screens were installed in the room where the reception took place, to allow the guests to browse through the memories of the 85 Luxembourg volunteers who fought in Korea.
For his part, the Minister for the Economy was particularly pleased about the opening of a Luxembourg embassy in Seoul in 2023.
Press release my the Ministry for the Economy