x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

South Korea's long, admirable journey to G20 host

The upcoming G20 summit is the first in the East. The agenda in Seoul will reflect this eastward tilt.

Currency disputes, trade imbalances, and new regulations for global markets. All of these are on the table at the G20 Summit, which begins today. Its setting, Seoul, South Korea, makes the meeting all the more interesting. This is only the fifth meeting of leaders from the world's 20 largest economies. It is the first in the East. The agenda in Seoul will reflect this eastward tilt.

China's rise is one of the most important stories of the age but it should not completely steal the show. The South Koreans have a story of their own to tell and to learn from.

More than 60 years since the Korean peninsula was split into two nations, North and South, and 13 years from the Asian financial crisis, which put South Korea's democratic and free-market reforms in jeopardy, the country has displayed remarkable resilience. And today, its partnership with the UAE is part of that story.

While South Korea imports 14 per cent of its oil from the UAE, the trade between the two nations now runs far deeper than energy. As we reported yesterday, South Korean troops now have a role training Emirati forces. South Korean companies will help build the UAE's reactors as it pursues civilian nuclear energy. South Korea is a small but tough nation that has learned to thrive in a difficult neighbourhood. And in this, there are certainly lessons for the UAE.