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The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport (MOLIT), which is officially accompanying President Yoon Suk-yeol on his state visit to three Central Asian countries – Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan – has agreed to expand existing construction and infrastructure cooperation with resource-rich Turkmenistan to include new areas such as new towns and smart cities. Additionally, they aim to strengthen collaboration in transportation sectors, including aviation and railways.

Given Turkmenistan's abundant natural gas resources, which rank fourth in the world in reserves, it is expected to commission large-scale plant construction projects to expand production. Both countries are also signing various agreements to concretize this cooperation.

According to the MOLIT on June 11, the leaders of both countries attended the signing of an MOU on infrastructure and new city cooperation with the capital city of Turkmenistan, Ashgabat, at 5 pm (local time) the previous day.

Through this agreement, the two countries plan to share information on policies, systems, and projects related to various infrastructure and new city developments. They will also embark on broad cooperation, including formulating new city development plans and holding expert seminars.

With the latest agreement, South Korea aims to transfer its experience in new city development, smart city technologies, and know-how to projects such as Arkadag, a new city in Turkmenistan. This will also lay the groundwork for domestic companies to participate in engineering and investment development projects.

In the plant construction sector, Hyundai Engineering signed a basic agreement with Turkmenistan's state gas company for the fourth desulfurization facility at the Galkynysh gas field and a cooperation agreement with the state chemical company for the normalization of the polymer plant in Kiyanli.

To achieve this year's goal of securing US$40 billion (approximately 55.13 trillion won) in overseas construction contracts, the government also plans to strengthen construction and infrastructure cooperation during this state visit. This includes pursuing large-scale projects such as eco-friendly ammonia and urea fertilizer plants.

During the Korea-Turkmenistan Business Forum held at 10 am (local time) on this day, President Yoon Suk-yeol and Turkmenistan's National Leader Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, along with key government and business representatives from both countries, attended a presentation by Minister of MOLIT Park Sang-woo on South Korea's smart city capabilities and strategies.

Minister Park highlighted advanced information and communication technology (ICT), high education standards, and diverse urban development experiences as strengths of South Korea's smart cities. He also presented the key concepts of the national pilot cities, Sejong and Busan, including mobility-specialized cities and robot-friendly cities

He also explained the operation of the urban integrated operations center, which is dedicated to citizen safety and disaster prevention, as well as smart transportation solutions aimed at alleviating traffic congestion and enhancing convenience for commuters.

He actively shared South Korea's smart city experience by introducing the “K-City Network” project as part of the country’s international cooperation program.

In addition, the aviation authorities of the two countries held an aviation meeting before this state visit. Through this meeting, they agreed to increase the scale of flights to Turkmenistan to support bilateral exchanges.

With the expansion of air traffic rights, the opening of direct passenger routes between the two countries is expected to significantly reduce travel time, greatly alleviating the inconvenience for travelers and facilitating increased human and material exchanges between the two nations. Currently, transfer flights via Turkey take at least 14 hours, but with direct flights, the travel time will be reduced to seven hours.

It is also expected to strengthen the role of Incheon International Airport as a transit hub by accommodating part of the annual travel demand between Turkmenistan and China, which exceeds 50,000 people.

Regarding the railway modernization and electrification project underway in Turkmenistan, which includes the double-tracking and electrification of the 1,150 km Turkmenabat-Ashgabat-Turkmenbashi section, discussions have been held to explore cooperation opportunities following a request from the local railway authorities in September 2023.

The Korea National Railway plans to dispatch its own investigative team for local field research in connection with this. The MOLIT sees this as an opportunity to establish a foundation for domestic companies to participate in the construction of the east-west transit transportation network in Turkmenistan.

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Autor(en)/Author(s): Yoon Young-sil

Quelle/Source: Business Korea, 12.06.2024

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