South Korea seeks Gulf business boom with new advantages over rivals China, Japan


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Samuel Wendel

Senior Market Research Analyst, Al-Monitor


Feb. 20, 2024

Bottom Line:

South Korea is cementing itself as a major economic and strategic partner with key Middle East states, generating exports of everything from nuclear technology to missile defense systems. That was on display during Riyadh’s World Defense Show earlier this month, where Seoul proved a big winner despite focus centering on China’s high-profile presence amid growing Beijing-Riyadh ties. But that didn’t translate into Chinese dealmaking, while regional neighbor (and US ally) South Korea secured a landmark $3.2 billion arms contract with the kingdom during the arms expo. This mirrors a broader trend, headlined by the East Asian country striking a rare free trade agreement with the GCC in December 2023, opening the door for more trade, investment and cooperation.

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