CEOE President Antonio Garamendi and the chairman of the Presidency Cabinet and CEO of International CEOE Narciso Casado have accompanied SS.MM this week. the Kings in their state visit to Korea, where they have participated in the business events planned in Seoul. Notably, among them, the bilateral business meeting held today and organized by the Secretary of State for Commerce, ICEX Spain Export and Investment, CEOE and the Chamber of Commerce of Spain, in which S.M. the King of Spain, Felipe VI; the president of the Republic of Korea, Moon Jae-In; and the acting Minister of Industry and Commerce and Tourism, Reyes Maroto, among other authorities. They have also participated in a working breakfast with S.M. the King and presidents of the large conglomerates of Korean industries and representatives of KORCHAM (the Korean Chamber of Commerce).

Business Meeting

Garamendi has started today's activity program with a working breakfast with S.M. the King and presidents of the large conglomerates of Korean industries and representatives of KORCHAM (the Korean Chamber of Commerce) and then S.M. The King, Felipe VI, and the President of the Republic of Korea, Moon Jae-In, have opened the Spain-Republic of Korea Business Meeting, in which numerous representatives of Spanish companies with a presence in Korea have participated.

During the meeting, organized jointly by the Secretary of State for Trade, ICEX Spain Export and Investment, CEOE and the Chamber of Commerce of Spain, two plenary sessions have been held in which investment opportunities and business collaboration between both countries, both locally and in third countries. In this regard, they have placed special emphasis on presenting infrastructure projects to enhance cooperation in the local market and in third parties; and have talked about opportunities to strengthen bilateral collaboration in the development of new technologies related to industry 4.0.


In the opening session, both S.M. King Felipe VI as the president of the Republic of Korea, Moon Jae-In, have opted for the joint cooperation of companies from both countries in third markets.

In this sense, S.M. King Felipe VI has stressed that from Spain there is a great interest in promoting the development of joint projects, especially in energy and infrastructure, in third countries of common interest, specifically in Asia and the Middle East. In this regard, it has highlighted that both Spain and Korea have basic conditions that favor the strategic cooperation of both. Likewise, S.M. Felipe VI has encouraged entrepreneurs to give new impetus to bilateral economic and trade relations, which he has described as "excellent so far."

For his part, the president of the Republic of Korea has advocated to strengthen bilateral technological cooperation, especially in relation to smart cities and autonomous vehicles; collaborate in the field of green energy and strengthen joint projects and investments in third countries. In this regard, he has emphasized that Spain is a country open to the outside, and has praised the strategic ties it has with Latin America and with North Africa. He also reported that cooperation with Asia had been increased thanks to the 2019-2020 Strategic Plan.

Cooperation in third markets

From Seoul, the CEOE CEO, Antonio Garamendi, has highlighted the effort and intense joint activity carried out by CEOE, and especially within the Council of Ibero-American Businessmen (CEIB), in collaboration with the General Secretariat Iberoamericana (SEGIB), for materializing the commitments of the business sector and the public sector together on issues relevant to the economic and social development of Latin America.

Therefore, the CEO of CEOE has considered cooperation in third markets to be fundamental, with the presence of Spanish companies, especially in Europe and Latin America; and in the case of Korean companies with their presence in Asia; and he has cited some examples of collaboration in sectors such as automotive, infrastructure, logistics or renewable energy. Garamendi has also added that “it is not convenient to leave Africa aside, where the complementarity of our companies and the growth prospects allow us to be optimistic about the possibilities of collaboration”.

Bilateral relations

During his visit to Korea, Garamendi has ensured that there are 27 Korean companies registered with investments in Spain, while about 40 Spanish companies have investments in Korea in textile, mineral, automotive components, renewable energy and services sectors. He also stressed that bilateral trade is booming, with a growing merchandise trade, which reached about 5,200 million euros in 2018. "More than 4,000 Spanish companies exported goods to Korea last year," he said.

To the good evolution of bilateral trade, he said, has contributed decisively to the entry into force of the trade agreement between the EU and Korea, thanks to the elimination of tariffs and numerous technical barriers. In fact, he underlined, since the agreement entered into force, bilateral trade increased 207% between 2011 and 2017. Garamendi has also assured that Korea is the third destination of our revenue from service exports in Asia, reaching 594 million of euros last year. The figures, he said, have increased 50% between 2014 and 2018 and service exports, not including tourism, have concentrated on business and computer services, with a total of 1,131 exporting companies to the Asian country. The level of investments remains modest, he said, so the CEOE has always stressed the importance of government and institutional support to companies to encourage investment.

Investment sectors

Regarding the sectors that present opportunities for joint cooperation, Garamendi has highlighted from Seoul the export of goods, especially agrifood, consumer goods and machinery; tourism, where Korea is the third largest issuer of tourists from the Far East to Spain, with 490,631 Korean visitors in 2018; renewable energy and the environment, a sector in which the Korean government plans to make significant investments; or infrastructure and real estate investment, where there are large projects in which Spanish and Korean participation is present through large investment funds.

Garamendi has also mentioned innovation, where Korea stands out as one of the countries with the highest investment in the sector. In this regard, it has highlighted the Technological Cooperation Framework, signed between CDTI and KIAT in 2007, in order to promote technological collaboration between companies in both countries; as well as European programs such as the Eureka initiative.

Collaboration between CEOE and FKI

Within the framework of business cooperation, Garamendi has highlighted the collaboration between CEOE and the Korean Federation of Industries (FKI), counterpart of our Confederation in the Global Business Coalition and the OECD Business Advisory Council and with which renewed our commitment to collaboration in 2016 in Seoul. In this sense, it has also committed from CEOE to promote business collaboration and promote the internationalization of Spanish companies.


Yesterday, Wednesday 23, Garamendi and Casado met with the presidents of the Chamber of Commerce of Spain in Korea (CAMACOE), Enrique Vilaplana, and the Chamber of Commerce of Spain, José Luis Bonet, and with Spanish businessmen in the Asian country , followed by a seminar on how to do business in the Republic of Korea, attended by representatives of institutions of both countries and those responsible for several Spanish companies with interests in the region. At the seminar, the director of the Presidency Cabinet and CEO of International CEOE, Narciso Casado, analyzed the trade relations between Spain and Korea together with the rest of the participants; the importance of Korean conglomerates; Spanish financing instruments, with special emphasis on climate finance; Korea's economic situation and the prospects for Spanish investment, among other issues. The day ended with a gala dinner, offered by the president of Korea, Moon Jae-In, in honor of SS.MM. the Kings of Spain.

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