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The Korea Herald
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THE INVESTOR
July 16, 2024

Economy

[Herald Interview] Lithium-rich Chile seeks to lure more Korean investment

  • PUBLISHED :March 18, 2024 - 09:50
  • UPDATED :March 18, 2024 - 09:50
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InvestChile Director Karla Flores speaks during an interview with The Korea Herald at the Embassy of Chile in Seoul, on Thursday. (Im Se-jun/The Korea Herald)

Chile's Ministry of Public Works and the investment promotion agency, InvestChile, recently visited Seoul to boost the country's infrastructure and technology sectors, inviting investors in Korea to participate in its extensive portfolio of projects.

During an interview with The Korea Herald at the Embassy of Chile in central Seoul on Thursday, InvestChile Director Karla Flores and Concession General Director Juan Manuel Sanchez shed light on their strategies to attract new investment interests for companies in Korea.

"As we work to position ourselves as a global player in renewable energy and infrastructure development, partnerships with countries like Korea which possess great strength in advanced technology and innovation know-how are poised to play a pivotal role in shaping our future trajectory," Flores said.

The ministry, overseeing nearly 3,000 projects annually with a total value of some $4 billion, is eyeing long-term transportation developments such as a train connecting Santiago and Valparaiso, cable cars in various cities and a high-level improvement of Route 5, Chile's main north-south highway.

Moreover, with over $10 billion earmarked for public-private partnership projects in the pipeline, including ventures in the lithium Industry, technological and digital infrastructure, infrastructure concessions and clean energy and storage sectors, the opportunities for foreign investments are vast.

"According to information obtained from the IMF, South Korea has an investment stock of $572 million in Chile as of 2021, with involvement in sectors such as trade, energy and mining. This figure is low considering the potential of both economies, especially considering that the annual bilateral trade between the two countries is around $8 billion." Flores added.

One of the flagship events to facilitate this dialogue is the upcoming 7th International InvestChile Forum, scheduled from May 15-17. With a lineup including an inaugural conference led by Chile President Gabriel Boric, sectoral sessions, and a matchmaking event facilitating over 200 meetings, the forum promises to be a cornerstone for forging partnerships and sealing deals.

InvestChile Director Karla Flores (right) and Chile Ministry of Public Works' Concession General Director Juan Manuel Sanchez, pose for a photo at the Embassy of Chile in Seoul, on Thursday. (Im Se-jun/The Korea Herald)

Of particular interest are opportunities in the lithium industry, where Chile aims to leverage its position as a global leader in lithium reserves.

With plans to adopt direct extraction technology and move up the value chain to produce value-added lithium products, collaborations with Korean companies leading the field are highly sought after by the Chilean government.

"We participated in a business round table organized with the Korea International Trade Association on Thursday, where major Korean conglomerates and state-owned companies were in presence," Sanchez said. "Companies including Posco International, Samsung C&T, LG Energy Solution, and Korea Airports Corporation have shown great interest in the upcoming forum, as well as many others."

Meanwhile, Chile's commitment to becoming the world's most affordable producer of green hydrogen by 2030 presents lucrative prospects, with the potential to generate $200 billion in investment and create 100,000 new jobs over the next two decades.

With more than 50 publicly announced green hydrogen production projects in various scales set up in Chile as of December last year, InvestChile believes the stage is set for Chile to emerge as a key player in the global energy transition by fostering foreign investment that shares the same values.

By Kim Hae-yeon (hykim@heraldcorp.com)
The Korea Herald

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