South Korean firms engaged in manufacturing building materials and accessories were a little slow in studying the real potential of doing business in the Middle East, especially in GCC states including Qatar.
According to representatives of some Korean companies participating in the Project Qatar 2009 at Doha Exhibition Center, the entrepreneurs in their country began to seriously study the growing construction sector of GCC States, notably in Qatar only when this country hosted the Asian Games in December 2006.
“We were thus a little late in waking up to meet the challenges of the GCC States. However, now most Korean companies have learnt the real worth of carrying out business in countries such as Qatar and they are reporting encouraging business,” said Sun Gyeonggi Venture Business Association (GSVA) president Hyeong-Gon Sun.
GSVA has mobilised members from the region where it operates for the ongoing exhibition, inquiries found. Now, 13 Korean firms are participating in the fair and next year the participants from the East Asian nation feel there could be more participants.
The view is echoed by a Korean embassy official, who said the business delegations from his country that toured Qatar in the last two years have reported encouraging inquiries from Qatar companies and were keen on establishing JVs with them, both in Qatar and Korea.
Last year, the trade volume between the two countries was in the region of $16.4bn and out of which more than $14.6bn were Qatar exports to Korea, mainly in the form of LNG, petroleum and petrochemicals.
“Korea is an energy-deficient country and thus demand for energy is at its highest there,” said the embassy’s trade and business attaché Jeong Kyu Dong.
The Korean official felt along with ships, construction materials would also be one of the top exports to Qatar in coming years.
“We have a better understanding of the requirements of the region and there is every reason to feel that our companies’ acceptance among Qatar clients would go up in near future,’ said Dong.
The embassy official said a number of major projects are currently underway in Qatar notwithstanding the global economic melt down and thus the country offers enormous opportunities for Korean entrepreneurs to do business.
“The local government has wholeheartedly supported business activities and it is therefore all to see at exhibitions like Project Qatar,’ he said.
Hyeong Gon Sun said figures predicted massive growth in the economies of GCC States, in particular Qatar and hence the construction sector is bound to grow considerably in coming years here.
He said the Korean companies have been received favourably by the local business firms and there is more scope for strengthening co-operation between them in future.
Korea’s expertise in construction industry has been globally acknowledged and the companies from Korea would be able to attract more business in the local and regional market in coming days.
Being one of Qatar’s major business partners, Hyeong Gon Sun said Korea would be able to share expertise with local companies for setting up manufacturing facilities catering to the local and regional markets.
“The participation here gives Korean companies more visibility and they could display their products in a systematic manner at the fair,” he felt.
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