SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won, who also serves as the chairman of the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry. [Courtesy of the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry]
Chief and senior executives from South Korean companies have been working in unison to boost the city of Busan’s bid to host the 2030 World Expo, increasing the number of their overseas business trips and diplomatic meetings.
Numerous business figures, including SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won, who also serves as the chairman of the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry, are traveling extensively to drum up support for Busan’s bid.
Instead of attending the Korea-Qatar Business Forum, a bilateral business network held in October 2023, Chey headed to Africa and Europe to continue diplomatic activities in securing votes for his country’s bid, given that the Middle East is considered a stronghold for rival bid candidate Saudi Arabia.
Korean major enterprises, namely Samsung Group and Hyundai Motor Group, have already tapped their global networks to support the 2030 Expo bid. And their active engagement on the global stage is also on the rise. For example, Jay Y. Lee, executive chairman of Samsung Electronics Co., met on Wednesday with Fiji’s Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka on the sidelines of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) held on the Cook Islands to win the island’s support for the Korean bid.
“Some might say Saudi Arabia boasts oil wealth and Islamic networks in its bidding activities, but South Korea has a strong business network,” an unnamed source who works at the government’s expo bid committee said.
Then, what are Korea’s chances of winning the bid? “The match is nip and tuck,” according to officials from the bid committee and relevant organizations, even though Saudi Arabia started the race a year ahead of Korea.
The significant progress would not have been possible without the commitments made by Korean business figures, not to mention President Yoon Suk Yeol’s efforts in expanding the country’s relationships with global partners.
Even in the worst-case scenario of an unsuccessful bid, I would say that Korean business leaders have taken the opportunity to explore new markets and growth potential through their international bidding activities.
“During the international business trips, I was surprised by the abundant yet untapped business opportunities across the globe,” a business official who asked for anonymity said.
A second unnamed business official who ventured into lesser-explored regions including Africa, Latin America, and the Pacific Islands highlighted the significant advantages gained by acquiring diverse business information from each country. While prominent Korean companies traditionally focused on major markets such as the United States, Europe, and China, there is a notable shift towards exploring emerging markets and new project opportunities.
Leaders and officials from other nations were also said to be inspired by Korea’s industrial competitiveness and corporate capabilities after meeting with Korean companies.
Even if Busan’s bid is unsuccessful, I hope that this collaborative effort between the public and private sectors is an opportunity for Korea’s capabilities to shine on the global stage.
By Editorial Team
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