Korea Loses Out as Egyptian Unrest Continues

KoreaThere are many sorts of uncertainties with the current unrest in Egypt and although many look upon the Egyptian regime as a brutal dictatorship, Korea has a successful trade relationship with Egypt to worry about. One company, Samsung has increasingly been recognized as a leader as a technology brand in Egypt. “Nokia is considered a low-end mobile phone brand in Egypt while the Samsung mobile phone is praised as a high-quality product,” said Chung Boa, 31, who has lived in Egypt for seven years.

The Korea International Trade Association reported bilateral trade last year between the two countries to be $2.8 billion. Korean exports we estimated to be $1.5 billion and imports from Egypt $1.3 billion.

“Compared to the first time I came here, Korea’s presence has grown exceptionally. There are major Korean conglomerates such as Hyundai and Samsung that are operating in Egypt.” Mr. Boa added.

Yet we spoke with Mr. Boa just before the current unrest in Egypt and with the current uprising in Egypt intensifying the 36 Korean companies in Egypt are under increasing trouble. Samsung Electronics has frozen its mobile phone sales there and LG Electronics decided to suspend its local factory operation albeit temporarily.

Since the beginning of what has become known as the January 25th Revolution, incidents of looting and arson have increased. In response all of Samsung’s local sales agencies have fled Egypt. Its major mobile phone clients are not doing their business, either. Under the circumstances, Samsung has decided to halt its marketing and promotion there altogether.

Egypt is ranked the fourth-largest export destination in the Middle East for Korean based companies after the United Arab Emirates, Iran and Saudi Arabia. Korean exports in 2010 of auto parts, synthetic resins, construction machinery, transformers, tires, storage batteries, and medicine to Egypt totalled US$2.24 billion.

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