September 17, 2008

South Korea to Develop Marine Resources in Indonesia

Text of report in English by South Korean news agency Yonhap

SEOUL, Sept. 17 (Yonhap) - South Korea has signed a deal with Indonesia to lease 25,000 hectares of coastal waters to cultivate seaweed that can be processed to produce bio-ethanol fuel, the government said Wednesday.

The letter of intent (LOI) signed between the Ministry for Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and its Indonesia counterpart permits local companies to lease the waters free of charge.

"The LOI is significant since it will allow South Korea to use the archipelago as an important overseas staging point for the production of marine resources," said a government official.

The seaweed grown at the farm will be used to make commercial pulp products and bio-ethanol that have become an important fuel source in the face of high crude oil and gas prices.

He added the arrangement could also help South Korean companies to expand into the Chinese market where demand for fisheries products are on the rise, and overcome growing pressure to open the domestic market to imports.

Samsung C&T Corp. said it wants to operate the seaweed farm.

The Ministry, meanwhile, said that it plans to redouble efforts to help local companies increase their presence in foreign markets and build production bases. It said efforts are underway to develop a dedicated fund to help support such endeavours by local companies.

Originally published by Yonhap news agency, Seoul, in English 0219 17 Sep 08.

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