By Editors Kevin Lee, Song Na-ra
“Korea-Bolivia cooperation is actively supporting Bolivia's industrialization process,” said Charge d' Affairs a.i Louis Pablo Sebastian Ossio Bustillos of Bolivia in Seoul.
CDA Ossio Bustillos made the remarks at a gala reception to celebrate the 197th anniversary of the National Independence Day of Bolivia, which was held at the Four Seasons Hotel in Seoul on Aug. 5, 2022 with attendance of many Korean and international dignitaries, including Korean government leaders and ambassadors.
“The Republic of Korea has prioritized Bolivia in the Latin American region to provide its valuable development cooperation. In this context, the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) is a very important partner for development,” said CDA Ossio Bustillos.
Noting that the main areas for bilateral cooperation between the two countries are health, agriculture, transportation and energy, he said, “They are in accordance with the Bolivian National Development Plan.”
CDA Ossio Bustillos continued to say, “The Korean cooperation is supporting Bolivia's industrialization process, for example, as a country with Food Security and Sovereignty, through provisions, such as: the installation of solar panels; the execution of irrigation and well drilling programs to guarantee the provision of drinking water for the entire population.
“In this context, the Korea Program on International Agriculture (KOPIA), under the Rural Development Administration (RDA), whose main achievements enabled improvement in seeds of potato, quinua, tomato, rice and corn is highlighted.”
Delivering a congratulatory speech, meanwhile, Choi Jong-uk, general director for Latin America and the Caribbean Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea, said, “Bolivia is one of Korea’s four major Latin American partners in the field of development cooperation.”
Stressing that Korea hopes to share her development experience to contribute to Bolivia's sustainable development, General Director Choi said, “We are trying to take a step closer to Bolivia through Korean culture such as K-pop and K-drama, in which Bolivians are interested. And based on this interest and goodwill, I hope that the two countries will work closely together in more diverse areas.”
Details of speech of Charge d' Affairs a.i Louis Pablo Sebastian Ossio Bustillos of Bolivia in Seoul.
Good morning to Mr. Choi Jong-uk, General Director for Latin America and the Caribbean Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea, to the Ambassadors, to the Charges d'Affaires, to the Diplomatic Corps, to the academics, to Korean society, to the group of volunteers of Korea and dear compatriots.
First of all, I would like to convey greetings from President Luis Arce Catacora and Vice President David Choquehuanca. We are gathered here to celebrate on the occasion of the 197th Anniversary of the Independence of Bolivia, in commemoration of August 6th, 1825. I am very grateful to all of you for joining us on this special occasion.
Today I would like to remember the fight of so many brave women and men who offered their lives in a long fight from the first libertarian cry from 1809 to 1825 to achieve independence and also that to those heroes, many of them anonymous, who during the contemporary history of Bolivia, they put their convictions before their personal security, to face dictatorships and coups d'etat.
Currently, the international context is going through many sceneries of uncertainties, with several multifaceted crises. Bolivia currently appears to be the country with the least volatility among neighboring countries. The explanation is that it bases its growth on the strength of domestic demand and that variable gives us certainty that allows the stability of the Bolivian economy, without social costs, because the government subsidizes sensitive prices, such as bread and gasoline, with the prices of those products being probably the cheapest in America. Bolivia, being located in the heart of South America, has given priority to the interconnection of its vast territory of 1,098.580 and is improving the infrastructure of roads, bridges, railways, hydroelectric power plants and airports.
Bolivia is a founding member of the Andean Community of Nations with Peru, Ecuador and Colombia and is in the process of joining MERCOSUR, with which Bolivia shares nearly 72% of its borders. Some indicators such as a positive trade balance, the solidity of the Bolivian currency, low inflation, approaching 1% and the fall in unemployment are some aspects that allow us to be optimistic.
With that said, I will allow myself to present a brief overview of the bilateral relations between Bolivia and Korea. Bolivia reopened its embassy from 2014. In political relations, the Republic of Korea reopened its Embassy in La Paz in 2008 and Bolivia did so in 2014. Since that decade, economic relations have grown significantly, to make Bolivia achieve an accumulated favorable trade balance of more than 2 thousand 500 hundred million dollars, particularly due to the export of zinc, lead and silver minerals, as well as non-traditional products such as Brazilian nuts, alcohol, cafe, etc.
Below, you can see the relative importance of the Republic of Korea to Bolivia in terms of trade balance, comparing the first half of last year with 2022, from January to June among the 20 main destinations. Bolivia has exported 301 million dollars so far and has imported 34 million dollars, leaving a favorable balance for Bolivia of 267 million dollars.
Also in the economic area, the Bolivian government hired Samsung Engineering company for around 900 million dollars to build an ammonia and urea fertilizer plant in the Department of Cochabamba.
During 2022, it is expected to produce 600,000 tons of urea, managing to operate the plant at 85% of its capacity, whose export is directed especially to the markets of Brazil and Argentina, Peru and Paraguay. Bolivia expects to raise a record figure of 350 million dollars until the end of the year. Also in the economic sphere, with the financial cooperation of the EDCF of Korea's EXIMBANK, it was possible to build the longest bridge in Bolivia called "Puente Banegas'' in Santa Cruz (1,540mts), allowing the following facts:
ㆍFrom daily traffic between Pailón to Cotoca the number of vehicles increased from 2,491 in 2005 to 6,087 in 2012.
ㆍFrom three hours it went down to one minute,
ㆍTransporting 94 metric tons of sugarcane increased to 476 metric tons,
ㆍAnd 42 metric tons of wheat to 139 metric tons.
The Republic of Korea has prioritized Bolivia in the Latin American region to provide its valuable development cooperation. In this context, the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) is today a very important partner for development. The main areas they focus are on: Health, Agriculture, Transportation and Energy, in accordance with the Bolivian National Development Plan.
The Korean cooperation is supporting Bolivia's industrialization process, for example, as a country with Food Security and Sovereignty, through provisions, such as: the installation of solar panels; the execution of irrigation and well drilling programs to guarantee the provision of drinking water for the entire population. In this context, the Korea Program on International Agriculture (KOPIA), under the Rural Development Administration (RDA), whose main achievements enabled improvement in seeds of potato, quinua, tomato, rice and corn is highlighted.
According to the Productive Community Social Economic Model applied by Bolivia and which basically means the influx of the private sector, state companies, cooperative companies and that of indigenous peoples, with the main mission of reducing extreme poverty, the effective redistribution of income and the reduction of inequality. Bolivia is determined to continue on the path of sustainable economic development in harmony with nature, Mother Earth, for which we believe that there is an adequate macroeconomic, legal and institutional climate.
Today is a day of joy, for having advanced so much, for keeping the spirit of Bolívar alive, in worthy and sovereign people. We should congratulate ourselves for the achievements in reducing poverty, eradicating illiteracy, and political and social stability. This celebration in the city of Seoul with so many friends, is just about to begin in Bolivia, with a thirteen-hour time difference between Asia and South America.
Tomorrow will begin in the main squares of cities and towns in Bolivia, the protocol activities with the red, yellow and green flags; and multicolored whipalas, which symbolizes Indigenous Peoples, originals and peasants, but apart from the inclusive and diverse character of our country. The authorities and the people in the streets will be paying tribute to our heroes of independence on this important date. Once again, I thank you all for being here, thanks to the embassy members, thanks to the compatriots for coming and for us to continue walking together towards progress and prosperity. Thank you.
Congratulatory speech by Choi Jong-uk, general director for Latin America and the Caribbean Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea
Charge d' Affairs a.i Louis Pablo Sebastian Ossio Bustillos, delegates from all over the world, and ladies and gentlemen,
Thank you for inviting me to this meaningful event to celebrate the 197th anniversary of the National Independence Day of the Plurinational State of Bolivia, and on behalf of the Korean government and people, I would like to express my sincere congratulations to the Bolivian government and people.
August 6, 1825 is a historic day when the independent forces led by Simon Bolivar and Antonio José de Sucre won and declared an independent republic. Even today, 197 years after its independence, Bolivia is still honoring the sacrifices of independent heroes and the spirit of independence through the name of Bolivia, the constitutional capital of Sucre, and the square of Murillo.
Bolivia recorded more than 6% economic growth last year despite the COVID-19 pandemic, and has future growth potential based on abundant mineral resources such as natural gas and lithium and beautiful tourism resources. In particular, the Uyuni Salt Flat and the cable car (Teleferico) in the capital city of La Paz are widely known among Koreans as one of their travel bucket lists, and about 16,000 people visited Bolivia annually before the Corona Pandemic.
Since establishing diplomatic relations in 1965, Korea and Bolivia have continued their friendship as precious friends and important cooperative partners. With the reopening of the Embassy of the Republic of Korea in the Plurinational State of Bolivia in 2008 and the reopening of the Embassy of Plurinational State of Bolivia in the Republic of Korea in 2014, bilateral cooperation has been strengthened. In 2017, painter Roberto Mamani Mamani and guitarist Pirai Bakka visited Korea.
With the last visit to the Korea-Bolivia Council for Friendship in 2019, I hope that human and cultural exchanges between the two countries, which have been temporarily suspended due to the COVID-19, will resume as soon as possible starting today's Independence Day event prepared by Charge d' Affairs a.i Luis Pablo Sebastian Ossio Bustillos.
Bolivia is one of our four major Latin American partners in the field of development cooperation, and we would like to share our development experience to contribute to Bolivia's sustainable development. Also, we are trying to take a step closer to Bolivia through Korean culture such as K-pop and K-drama, in which Bolivians are interested. And based on this interest and goodwill, I hope that the two countries will work closely together in more diverse areas.
Once again, Congratulations on the 197th anniversary of the independence of the Plurinational State of Bolivia, and I wish Bolivia's endless development and eternal friendship between the two countries. Thank you.