World Bank chief calls for Korean investment into emerging markets

December 3, 2013
Jim Yong Kim, president of the World Bank, answers questions at a press conference at Grand Hyatt Hotel, Tuesday. / Yonhap

Jim Yong Kim, president of the World Bank, answers questions at a press conference at Grand Hyatt Hotel, Tuesday. / Yonhap

By Yi Whan-woo

North Korea needs to join the World Bank (WB) to get economic support, said the head of the U.S.-based lending institution, Tuesday.

“Right now, North Korea is not a member of the bank,” said WB President Jim Yong Kim ― a Korean-American ― during a press conference at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Seoul. The WB has a total of 188 member nations.

“Everyone on this peninsula must understand there has to be some political breakthrough. We know there are nuclear questions and there are many issues on the table. Once there is a political opening, organizations like the WB and all of our partners are ready to move right away.

“But unfortunately, until it becomes a member of the bank, it won’t have time to receive support.”

Kim, 53, arrived in Seoul, Tuesday, to attend the opening ceremony of WB’s Korea office today at the international business district of Songdo near Incheon.

The Washington-based institution and the Seoul government agreed to set up the office here in October 2012 to deepen joint efforts to find sustainable development solutions for emerging countries.

Kim said he is pleased with Korea’s increased overseas development assistance over the past years in fulfilling the WB’s goals ― ending poverty and sharing economic prosperity around the world.

“Korea’s overseas development assistance has increased six-fold in the past 10 years, from under $200 million to $1.3 billion in 2011, and the government plans to increase it to $3 billion by 2015,” Kim said.

He also called for the active role of Korean enterprises in Africa to reduce poverty in the region, stressing investment into emerging markets as a “win-win” for Korea.”

“When I first took up my current role, I was very encouraged to find that many leaders in Africa and other developing countries wanted to know the story of Korea’s economic miracle,” Kim said.

“There is, however, under-appreciation of opportunities among Korean companies and Korea is a little behind compared to China and other countries.

“And I want to make clear that investing in emerging markets is a ‘win-win’ for Korea, and it’s another area we’re focusing on,” he said.

The opening ceremony of WB Korea will take place at 9 a.m. today at Songdo POSCO E&C Tower.

Kim is also scheduled to attend the launch ceremony for the headquarters of the United Nation’s Green Climate Fund (GCF) at G-Tower, also in Songdo.

The U.N. fund is tasked with providing financial support for developing countries to combat climate change and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

Kim will be among 150 international dignitaries, including the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Christine Lagarde.

This is the first time since the G20 Seoul Summit in 2010 that the chiefs of the WB and IMF will meet in Korea. Lagarde’s visit to Seoul is part of her tour of the IMF’s Asian member nations.