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German Envoy Stresses Cooperation in Speech
Amb. Hans-Ulrich Seidt Speaks at KHDI Forum in Seoul
German Ambassador Hans-Ulrich Seidt (left) poses with KHDI Chairman Chang Man-Key after the envoy's speech at KHDI's breakfast forum held at Lotte Hotel in Seoul on April 12, 2012.

German Ambassador to Seoul Hans-Ulrich Seidt spoke about similarities between Germany and South Korea and stressed bilateral cooperation at a recent forum held in Seoul.

The German envoy gave a speech under the title of "The 21st Century Economy of Germany and South Korea and Political Prospect" at 1735th Breakfast Forum held at Lotte Hotel on April 12, 2012 by Chairman Chang Man-Key of Korea Human Development Institute (KHDI).

Well over 200 CEOs of business areas, and other leaders of economic, political, and social sectors took part in the forum.

He said that both Germany and Korea would have the chance to shape a new world into the successful and a peaceful one in the 21st century as they closely work together.

He said that the bilateral ties go back 125 years to the last years of the Joseon dynasty (1392-1897).

He also mentioned that the late President Park Chung-Hee's visit to then West Germany, referring to his efforts for the successful industrialization and modernization of South Korea.

German Ambassador to Seoul Hans-Ulrich Seidt speaks at KHDI breakfast forum at Lotte Hotel in Seoul on April 12, 2012.

The German envoy talked about the economic outlook for the German and South Korean economies, energy issues as the crucial element of the future development. He also touched upon social policy, social developments, and the issue of science and culture at the forum.

He praised South Korea as one of the most successful economies in the world.

"Today Korea is Germany’s fourth largest economic partner outside the European Union only after China, the US, and Japan," he said. "South Korea's trade volume is as large as the trade volume of India, the Philippines, and Malaysia combined"

The German envoy mentioned that the Korean car exports to the EU increased in 2011 substantially due to the effects of the free trade agreement between South Korea and the European Union.

In 2010 the German export to South Korea increased by 25 percent in the midst of world-wide economic crisis.

He said that German exports to Korea are very successful in the field of machine building, chemical and pharmaceutical industry but also in other areas such as optics as well.

The German envoy pointed out that the figures of the OECD (Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development) are also positive in this year and also in the medium and long term perspective.

"However, both countries are facing major challenges in some areas in the near future,” he said. “The energy sector and the social and educational problems in particular"

German Ambassador Hans-Ulrich Seidt (center) talks with Chairman "Hilton Lee" while KHDI Chairman Chang Man-Key looks on at KHDI's breakfast forum in Seoul on April 12, 2012.

He said that energy policy was emphasized at a Blue House meeting he had with the presidential advisors a couple of weeks ago.

The German ambassador mentioned the turmoil in Libya and Japan's disaster of last year.

"There was the tsunami, the earthquakes and of course there was the Fukushima reactor catastrophe," he said. "At the same time, the turmoil started in Libya, North Africa, which is an oil producing country"

He argued that there is an economic and social problem due to the oil and energy crisis.

"How can we resolve the challenge that our two economies are more or less totally dependent on energy and imports?"

He pointed out that South Korea and Germany are going in a bit different directions after the Fukushima catastrophe.

"Korea is putting a lot of emphasis on energy and restructuring the energy supply sector and on nuclear energy," he said. "In Germany federal government decided to phase out the existing nuclear reactors in Germany"

"This will take about 10 years and step by step we will close down the nuclear reactors in Germany," he went on "At the same time we will increase substantially the percentage of renewable energy"

He explained that Germany concluded that nuclear energy even in highly developed societies is a high risk technology.

"In the long run we cannot use this technology of the 20th century in the 21st century," he said.

He brought up three examples of nuclear accidents: The 1979 Three Mile Island of the US, 1986 Chernobyl accidents in the ex-Soviet Union, Japan' Fukushima accident of last year.

He cited the analysis of the experts as the warning.

"If this happens once again, the discussion on nuclear energy will come up again and all of a sudden we have to react," he argued. "So it is good to think about the preventive steps to avoid this situation"

"And we want to be prepared for this kind of situation," he said "The accident in Japan is affecting the Japanese economy now"

He said that 51 of the 54 nuclear reactors in Japan are closed down now.

He introduced German case in pointing out the danger of nuclear reactors and the economic prices of dismantling them.

"As a result of German reunification we inherited the nuclear reactors of the East Germany," he said. "We had to close the old Chernobyl type of reactors in East Germany and dismantled them"

"We came to realize how complex and costly the dismantling process was during the last 20 years," he argued.

"Germany and South Korea will also have to think about what to do with these reactors when they run out of steam." he continued. "In the future, we will face enormous costs to dismantle them"

From this perspective the German envoy put emphasis on the usefulness and effectiveness of the renewable energy including solar energy for both Germany and South Korea.

The German ambassador saw the social policy as the new challenge for the two economies.

He pointed the two issues facing Germany and South Korea: Aging and the education system.

"Both of our countries have very low birth rates," he said. "The number of single women with high academic degrees is increasing dramatically in both nations"

He stressed that Germany and Korea should work together to find out ways for the young women can find both careers and their family.

"Personally I am a great admirer of the Korean educational system," Korea is a country with no natural resources but with full of resources of the brains and hands.

He pinpointed that among about 80 percent of all high school graduates who go to colleges and universities have trouble in finding jobs after graduation.

In case of Germany only less than 40 percent all high school graduates attend universities. The other graduates go to vocational schools.

"Personally I am convinced that in the field of education Germany and Korea should exchange information so they could learn from one another," he added.






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