Stronger Ties between Korea and PIF Member Countries
26 June 2023
The President of the Government, Louis Mapou, took part in the first South Korea-Pacific Islands Forum Summit in Seoul in May, alongside a New Caledonian delegation. At the heart of the discussions were ways of strengthening regional cooperation between the 18 Pacific States and Territories and Korea.
This unprecedented meeting, co-chaired by the President of the Republic of Korea Yoon Suk Yeol and the Prime Minister of the Cook Islands and President of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) Mark Brown, was held under the theme "Navigating towards Co-Prosperity: Strengthening Cooperation with the Blue Pacific". It was an opportunity to discuss major regional issues such as sustainable development, climate change, the environment, natural disasters, ocean conservation, maritime affairs and fisheries, and cooperation in international institutions
On the sidelines of the Summit, President Louis Mapou met Han Duck-soo, Prime Minister of the Republic of Korea, on 29 May. During this bilateral meeting, the two leaders discussed the nickel industry in particular. The Korean Prime Minister highlighted the importance of mining cooperation between the two countries, and in particular the partnership between Société minière du Sud Pacifique (SMSP) and the Korean company POSCO. He also emphasised New Caledonia's key role in the supply chain for the strategic electric battery market in which the Korean industry is positioned. Louis Mapou also met Jae-Tak Bae, President of POSCO. Discussions focused on the current state of the nickel market and the initiatives taken by Société du Nickel de Nouvelle-Calédonie et Corée (SNNC), POSCO's joint venture partner, to meet current challenges linked to supply costs and to seize possible opportunities.
Tourism and Cooperation Opportunities to be Explored
The President of the New Caledonian Government said that he had "responded positively" to his Korean counterpart's request to strengthen the partnership between the two countries. This collaboration could be supported by the reopening of the air route established in 2008, then closed in 2014, depending on the demand for reciprocal tourism. New Caledonia's exceptional natural heritage represents a significant lever for development. Korea has also announced its support for New Caledonia's application to join the Bureau of International Expositions, the body that coordinates universal exhibitions.
Other opportunities for cooperation, including trade, were discussed, thanks to the joint work of Korean and New Caledonian technical teams on standards to enable New Caledonian squash to be exported to the Korean market.
"The success of what we are undertaking is linked to our collective ability to develop a regional strategy. One of the aims of this strategy is to stimulate our private sectors in order to diversify our economies in strategic sectors such as tourism, livestock farming, fishing, forestry and agriculture", said Louis Mapou, President of the Government of New Caledonia.
Cooperation for a Peaceful Prosperous and Resilient Pacific
Noting that peace and stability in the Pacific region are intrinsically linked to global stability
global stability, the leaders agreed on the need to strengthen security cooperation on maritime, climate, energy, human, public health or cyber security issues.
At the Summit, the President of the Republic of Korea, Yoon Suk Yeol, expressed his desire to strengthen his strategic partnership with the Pacific islands through increased financial support for their development by 2027. This should be based on the PIF's 2050 regional strategy "for the blue Pacific continent", with a view to achieving inclusive and sustainable economic growth through cooperation projects tailored to the needs of each territory. The small island states of the Pacific require greater protection of their resources and maritime space in the face of global climatic and geostrategic challenges, hence the importance reaffirmed by Korea of consolidating regional relations with the major countries of the North Pacific.
Furthermore, the potential of the tourism sector is one of the major areas of cooperation between Korea and the Pacific territories, thanks to the region's unique culture and natural environment. The leaders affirmed that they would continue their efforts to ensure that the region is better connected.
Cooperation in International Institutions
Busan's bid to host the 2030 World Expo was welcomed by FIP representatives. It will focus on the themes of climate change, technological progress and economic development. The Republic of Korea has also asked for the support of the Pacific islands in its bid to become a non-permanent member of the Security Council for the 2024-2025 term.
The Pacific leaders also asked for Korea's support for Australia's bid to host the 31st Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, in partnership with the Pacific island countries, in 2026.
Finally, the leaders welcomed the candidacies of the Republic of the Marshall Islands and the Republic of Korea to the Human Rights Council for the 2025-2027 term.
Bilateral Meeting with French Polynesia
A bilateral meeting also took place on the sidelines of the summit, between President Louis Mapou and Moetai Brotherson, President of French Polynesia. This meeting provided an opportunity to reiterate the desire shared by the two French-speaking countries to consolidate their relationship, with the forthcoming signing of a new framework partnership agreement.