L-R: Philippe Schmitz, Rotarex Director; HRH Prince Guillaume; Michèle Schmitz-Gehrend, Jean-Claude Schmitz's wife; Jean-Claude Schmitz, Rotarex CEO; Isabelle Schmitz, Rotarex Vice President; Franz Fayot, Luxembourg's Economy Minister; Credit: SIP / Julien Warnand

On Tuesday 29 November 2022, the second day of 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, saw the inauguration of a new manufacturing plant of Rotarex and a visit to the War Memorial.

This second day of the official economic mission was dominated by the official inauguration of Luxembourg industrial player Rotarex's new state-of-the-art production site in Asan City and an official visit to the War Memorial, in honour of Luxembourg volunteers who fell during the Korean War. A working dinner with major Korean industrial investors was also on the agenda.

Inauguration of Rotarex's new plant

Prince Guillaume and Minister Fayot participated in the official opening of Rotarex's new state-of-the-art production facility in Asan City, Dong Dong, in the presence of Dongmin Moon, First Vice-Minister of Trade, Industry and Energy of the Republic of South Korea, as well as Rotarex's CEO and founder, Jean-Claude Schmitz, and Rotarex Korea's Managing Director, Bonnam Koo. This is the first investment in South Korea by a company fully owned by private Luxembourg shareholders.

Rotarex has had business relations with South Korea for several decades. In early 2021, Rotarex opened business offices in South Korea to strengthen its relationships with customers. One year later, Rotarex decided to invest significantly to build a new plant to continue to grow and better serve its customers.

The city of Asan, in the province of Chungcheongnam-Do, is located 30 minutes away from Seoul by high-speed train, next to three international airports and port facilities and is home to fifteen other large companies active in the automobile, semiconductor and chemical industries, among others. This is the reason why the new production site is expected to have positive effects on the region, such as reducing the delivery time for semiconductor parts, revitalising not only the semiconductor production but also the production and development of gas systems, industrial valves and firefighting parts.

With a total investment of €20 million, out of which the province of Chungcheongnam-Do subsidised €1.5 million. The new factory and office building occupy 7,000 m2 and were built in less than one year on a ground of 1.2 hectares. The construction is eco-friendly with solar panels, covering the roof (with a capacity of 180KW), and a car park equipped with ten electric charging terminals. Besides sales, product management, research and development, laboratory, machining and assembly, the production site houses a large warehouse that is intended to serve as a distribution hub for all Rotarex products throughout its twelve branches in Asia. 70 people have been hired to reinforce the existing local workforce.

Founded in 1922 in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, Rotarex has evolved over the last 100 years to become a world-leading producer of cylinder valves, pressure regulators, equipment and complete systems for all types of gas applications. Today, it holds more than 300 patents, employing nearly 2,000 people, with eleven production sites worldwide and 32 sales offices.

Luxembourg's Minister of the Economy stated: "This new plant underlines the good relations between Luxembourg and South Korea that are built on trust and shared values. In the current times, we need strong and reliable partner countries like South Korea with whom we have much in common, as pioneers of innovation and leaders in the high-tech and digital arenas. I am glad that Rotarex has chosen South Korea to establish its new production site for a key industry in the world economy".

Philippe Schmitz, Director and Deputy CEO of Rotarex, stated: "With the opening of this new plant, the tenth of the group in the world, we want to better serve not only South Korea but also the whole Asian market and to extend our business and knowedge in the semi-conductor industry. The project, which has been realised in a record time of eighteen months, would not have been possible without the commitment of our teams both in Korea and in Luxembourg and shows the interest of Korean authorities for the industrial sector".

After the opening ceremony, a guided tour of the new factory took place.

Visit of the War Memorial

In the afternoon, Luxembourg's Hereditary Grand Duke and the Economy Minister, accompanied by the South Korean Minister of Patriots and Veterans Affairs, Park Minshik, visited the War Memorial in Seoul.

The delegation laid a wreath at the War Memorial to commemorate the fallen soldiers and remember the Luxembourgish volunteers who fought during the Korean War and risked their lives to fight for the Republic of Korea's independence.

The War Memorial was erected in memory and honour of the fighters and victims of the Korean War, between 1950 and 1953. Luxembourg was among the sixteen countries that sent volunteers under the command of the United Nations (UN) to repel the North Korean army. 85 Luxembourg volunteers fought alongside the armed forces of the Republic of Korea and for the Republic of Korea's independence. Among them, two died in the fighting and seventeen were wounded. Today, seven veterans are still alive. This was the only Luxembourg military intervention after 1945 in which Luxembourg sent soldiers to the front.

The Hereditary Grand Duke of Luxembourg declared: "Luxembourg may have been the smallest of the sixteen United Nations Forces during the war but those volunteers came here to fight with their hearts. At their scale, they contributed to the Korean success story, to the emergence of a nation that has become a partner in business, an ally in an increasingly polarised world and a close friend".

The day ended with a working dinner with representatives of three of the most important Korean industrial investors in Luxembourg, namely Kiswire, Samwha and Hyosung.