By Yoo Yeon Gyeong

The government will join hands with the public and private sectors to jointly look for trade and investment projects in Africa, which boasts a massive market with a population of 1.4 billion.

The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy on Feb. 6 said its launch of the Korea-Africa Economic Cooperation Public-Private Support Group at the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Seoul’s Jung-gu District seeks to develop bilateral economic cooperation with Africa on the sidelines of the Korea-Africa Summit, which is set for June.

The group comprises over 30 institutions including the ministry, economic organizations, trade and investment support agencies, major public companies, groups and associations in industry, trade and resources.

Another task is screening main cooperation agenda for discussion with 54 African countries ahead of the summit and specifying cooperative plans. Additionally, the group will serve as a joint public-private platform to find results between Korean and African businesses.

Africa has a mega-scale market thanks to its 1.4 billion population and USD 3.4 trillion in gross domestic product. The continent has huge reserves of core minerals but its economic relationship with Korea remains marginal.

Since last year, the ministry has worked on building the basis for trade cooperation through an economic partnership agreement and trade and investment promotion framework, as well as creating networks of agencies promoting trade and investment and reinforcing the core mineral supply chain.

The plan is to aggressively push the June summit to accomplish the ministry’s goal this year of USD 700 billion in exports.

Deputy Minister for Trade Yang Byeong-nae said, “At this inaugural summit for Africa, we should cooperate to develop economic cooperation with Africa in all sectors including industry, trade and resources.”