HRH Prince Guillaume, Hereditary Grand Duke of Luxembourg, and Luxembourg's Minister of the Economy, Franz Fayot, meet with the South Korean Minister of SMEs and Startups, Lee Young; Credit: SIP / Julien Warnand

Luxembourg's official economic mission to South Korea, presided over by His Royal Highness Prince Guillaume, the Hereditary Grand Duke of Luxembourg, and led by the Minister of the Economy, Franz Fayot, began on Monday 28 November 2022.

The first day of this economic mission kicked off with the Luxembourg delegation's participation in two events, namely the Korea Space Forum and the Luxembourg-Korea Business Forum, a meeting with South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol and the signing of two memoranda of understanding (MoUs).

Solus Advanced Materials

The day began with a business lunch with the management of Solus Advanced Materials, the parent company of Luxembourg-based Circuit Foil since 2020. For Solus Advanced Materials, this was its first meeting with official representatives of the Luxembourg Government, following the takeover of Circuit Foil initiated during the COVID-19 pandemic. Circuit Foil Luxembourg uses an electroplating process to produce copper foil intended mainly for the manufacture of printed circuits for high-tech products, such as connected devices, sensors in cars and 5G antennas. 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 the South Korean group 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 Luxembourg delegation then attended the official opening of the Korea Space Forum, which is taking place from Monday 28 to Tuesday 29 November 2022 at the JW Marriott. The event is organised annually and this year's main theme is "Korea's challenge to realise 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 five space nations by 2035 and has increased its budget by 19% in 2022.

Ahead of the official opening academic session, Luxembourg's Economy Minister Franz Fayot signed an MoU with the South Korean Minister of Science and ICT, Lee Jong-Ho, with a view to strengthening the two countries' cooperation in the exploration and use of space resources for peaceful purposes. The agreement aims in particular to facilitate the exchange of information, personnel and expertise in the fields of space science, technology and space applications, and is expected to encourage concrete cooperation activities.

Contacts between Luxembourg and Korea on this subject, particularly in the field of space resources, have intensified in recent years, particularly since 2017. This MoU is expected to further strengthen the collaboration between the public and private partners of both countries.

At the opening of the forum, Minister 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 field of 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 Yoon Suk-yeol personally greeted Luxembourg's 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 the South Korean Minister of SMEs and Startups, Lee Young, with whom a bilateral courtesy meeting took place prior to the forum.

During the opening ceremony, the Hereditary Grand Duke, Luxembourg's Economy Minister Fayot and South Korea's SMEs Minister recalled the strong historical ties that unite the two countries, their similarities and the need to strengthen and develop new partnerships at the institutional, economic and academic levels.

During his speech, Minister 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. Mr 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 an MoU 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, Minister Lee Young highlighted the Korean policy for the globalisation of SMEs and startups.

Round tables on smart city solutions and future mobility completed the event, which gathered around 200 participants.

Official reception

This first day ended with an official reception, organised by the Luxembourg Embassy in close cooperation with the Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce and the Luxembourg Trade and Investment Office in Seoul, in the presence of Jin Park, South Korea's 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, Luxembourg's Hereditary Grand Duke paid special tribute to the 85 Luxembourg volunteers who fought with the Korean forces during the Korean War and stressed how essential it is to keep their memory alive. Consequently, 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.