Since the 1950s Sudan had maintained positive relations with South Korea, and friendly visit between the two countries began after Sudan’s Independence in 1956. For the first time the Korean good will mission led by General Kim Jung-yeal visited Sudan in April 1957 and followed by 8 good will missions.
The two countries established consular relations in 1976, followed by the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1977. Since then the two countries have promoted the friendship and pursued mutual interest and cooperation at bilateral or multilateral relations such as the Non-Aligned Movement and other international organizations.
In accordance with Article 9 of the agreement on Trade promotion and Economic & Technical Cooperation between the two countries in 1978, the first session of the Sudan-Korea Joint Committee was held in Seoul from August 26 to 27, 1991 at the level of Minister’s of Foreign Affairs of the two countries. In the session both sides discussed promotion of economic cooperation, technical cooperation, Trade promotion, cultural cooperation and conclusion of bilateral agreements.
The second session of the Sudan-Korea Joint Committee was held in Khartoum on the 13th of April 1996 at the level of Directors Generals of Bilateral Relations. The two sides discussed international & regional situation, promotion of economic and financial cooperation and cultural, educational and information cooperation and the third session was held in Seoul from 14-17 October 2003, and during this session, in addition to economic and cultural cooperation the two sides signed a memorandum of understanding for cooperation between the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of the two countries.
Cooperation in Trade between Korea and Sudan
South Korea had its direct Trade relations with Sudan in 1973 before the establishment of diplomatic relations, and the Presidents of Chamber of Commerce in the two countries discussed about an agreement on economic cooperation between the two countries in February 1983. In order to facilitate the promotion of trade between Sudan and Korea, they agreed to promote effective contacts for businessmen, trade missions experts in trade fields and to exchange information on expansion of trade and on trade legislation, customs and practices in both countries. It is an important point that this agreement was reached specially between private business organizations.
Many Korean Companies invested in Sudan, for example Daewoo Company entered Sudan since the mid 1970s. Kim Woo-choong, founder and Chairman of Daewoo Group was interested in pioneering new markets in Africa and started with Sudan as the model country representing all African countries and he started his business by establishing Daewoo branch in Sudan in 1976 and they started business by building a Tire factory and moved further to build (Palace Hotel) in addition to many roads with a joint venture construction companies. So Daewoo was thought of as a local company, and Daewoo developed to a large business group operating in Sudan with 4 corporations, they are ITMD, (Tire maker) SKCCC (Construction) GMC (Pharmaceutical) and BNB (Bank) in addition to textile and tannery industries etc.
Beside Daewoo, now Hyundai Company is assembling more than 7000-10000 cars annually in cooperation with JIAD Company.
Also LG Company has shifted its regional office from Nairobi to Khartoum last year which reflects the volume of distribution of its products in Sudan in addition to Samsung SK and other Korean Companies working in Sudan. A very important fact to be mentioned is that recently many Korean businessmen used to go to Sudan to explore business opportunities.
In order to promote bilateral cultural cooperation, a cultural agreement was reached between the two countries in 1980s to strengthen the existing friendly relations between Sudan and South Korea in the fields of culture, arts, science and technology, information, education, sports, mass media and social welfare, also the two countries signed cultural protocol for the cooperation in the fields of Youth & Sports in April 2004.
As a result of these dynamics the volume of Trade between Sudan and Korea has jumped to reach $475,000 but still we think this figure is beyond our expectations. We believe that the huge potentiality of the natural resources in Sudan and the Korean technology and capital can complement each other for the benefit of the people of the two countries.
We believe that, the cooperation between the two countries is still beyond our expectations. It is highly important to focus on certain points in order to push our relations towards more partnership without ignoring Korea’s technical & economic assistance to Sudan. We should concentrate on satisfying the basic needs of both countries, to rebuild infrastructure by Joint Ventures, import Sudanese agricultural products, Korean big companies to invest in energy sector etc. In addition to that, Korean businessmen and government high level officials to pay field visits regularly to Sudan to determine the potential extent and the value and nature of cooperation, provided that many Sudanese high level officials visited Korea since last year. In this context it is very important that, the Fourth Session of the Joint Committee meeting between the two countries to be held in the near future to give an impetus to the bilateral relations in different fields.
We also believe that cultural relationships and mutual understanding between the people of the two countries is very important especially after September 11, 2001. It is important for citizens of both countries to understand each other’s politics, religion and culture in general through direct contact and open minded approaches so as to redress lack of awareness and basic knowledge of each other. Of course this trend is valid and applicable between the Korean people and all people of the Middle-East and I understand this forum is one of the mechanisms and tools to achieve this goal. Our Scholar prof, Gafar Mirghani is going to present detailed paper on this very important issue.