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(Yonhap Interview) Luxembourg seeks to attract S. Korean startups, boost space cooperation: economic minister

Economy 18:00 November 28, 2022

By Woo Jae-yeon

SEOUL, Nov. 28 (Yonhap) -- Luxembourg is a perfect launching pad for South Korean businesses to make an entry into the European market, the country's economic minister said Monday, for its open culture, a vast talent pool and its central location bordering three of Europe's major economies -- Germany, France and Belgium.

"We are a gateway to Europe, and it is a very open country with a welcoming culture for foreign businesses," Luxembourg's Economic Minister Franz Fayot said during a media interview held in Seoul.

Fayot is currently visiting South Korea, accompanying Crown Prince Guillaume Jean Joseph Marie of Luxembourg, and leading a delegation of 87 officials from public and private institutions in the space and information technology sectors, among others.

The delegation is seeking cooperation in the space industry, startups, smart cities and environmental technology, in particular, he said, while trying to raise public awareness of the country, and strengthen economic and political ties between the two nations.

"Korea and Luxembourg have been long-standing partners," he said, reminding that the year 2022 marks the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two.

As a way to demonstrate the fact that Luxembourg "values this relationship," his government will open an embassy in Seoul next year to deepen ties with South Korea, he said.

Currently, Luxembourg runs an honorary consulate in Seoul, not a full-blown embassy.

Luxembourg's Economic Minister Franz Fayot makes a keynote speech at the Korea Space Forum in Seoul on Nov. 28, 2022. (Yonhap)

Luxembourg's Economic Minister Franz Fayot makes a keynote speech at the Korea Space Forum in Seoul on Nov. 28, 2022. (Yonhap)

Throughout the interview, Fayot emphasized the country's business-friendly environment, welcoming culture and generous financial grants, factors that help attract global startups to the small country, with a population of 640,000, to turn innovative ideas into reality.

"Luxembourg, being this very multicultural place at the heart of Europe, is a perfect launching pad for businesses that would like to expand into Europe," he said.

While Luxembourg's delegation will work on strengthening its relations with traditional business partners, such as South Korea's steel companies, it will also focus on fostering new ties in the space industry, for which he said the two countries share a vision and see a vast amount of growth potential.

In the afternoon, Fayot made a keynote speech at the Korea Space Forum that runs on Nov. 28 and 29, and signed a memorandum of understanding with South Korea's Ministry of Science and ICT for cooperation in the exploration and use of space for peaceful purposes.

In recent years, Luxembourg has increased its spending in space resources to nurture one of Europe's most dynamic ecosystems for space startups. According to the government, there are nearly 75 companies and research labs in the sector.

It has become one of the leading countries in commercial exploration and the utilization of space resources, Fayot said, thanks in part to the roles the Luxembourg Space Agency played, an independent national agency that was founded in September 2018.

"It is quite important to have a strong space agency with its own capacities, its own autonomy and, of course, within the context of well-defined space policy and political visions," he said.

South Korea has been also gearing up for boosting its space industry, especially following the successful launch of Nuri in June, the country's first homegrown rocket. With the launch, the country became the seventh country in the world to develop a space launch vehicle that can carry a satellite of more than 1 ton.

jaeyeon.woo@yna.co.kr
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