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South Korea's Strategic Economic Interests in Latin America: Seeking Markets and Securing Primary Commodities

Gilmar Masiero, University of Brasilia, Brazil

Pressured by the highly-skilled technological developments from Japan and competitive lower labor cost from China, the Korean economy has been forced to reinvent itself and expand its exploration of business opportunities in the Western Hemisphere. In the early 1990s, Korean FDI and trade to the region increased. The growth of these flows to and from Latin America did not increase as significantly in the next decade. Recently, however, as part of its strategy to expand trade through bilateral agreements, South Korea has sought to reignite its economic ties in the Western Hemisphere. It signed a free agreement with Chile in 2004 and with the United States in 2007. Plans are currently underway to sign a regional trade pact with Mercosur. This paper describes what are the main factors driving Korean companies to explore Latin American markets as a source of raw materials, primary commodities and a growing consumer market.


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