Samsung Electronics' Galaxy smartphones are on display in a phone store in Havana, Cuba, Feb. 16. Yonhap

The recent establishment of diplomatic ties with Cuba could have positive economic impacts on the Korean economy, the presidential office said Sunday, citing Cuba’s rich natural resources .”Cuba has significant mineral resources critical for electric battery (EV) production, such as cobalt and nickel,” read the press release, which laid out the formal diplomatic relationship’s expected effects by sector .Seoul and Havana established diplomatic relations in New York on Wednesday, with the two countries’ representatives to the United Nations exchanging diplomatic notes to mark the establishment of formal ties. Korean businesses can look to tap into Cuba’s vast reserves of natural resources, read the release, when and if the United States lifts the economic and trade embargo against Cuba, the world’s fifth-largest reserves of nickel and fourth largest of cobalt.

Korea is home to three of the world’s five biggest EV battery makers .The presidential office said it will help Korean businesses make inroads into the country in such sectors as daily necessities, home appliances and machinery, given the scarcity of such items due to Washington’s economic sanctions against Havana .The Korean government also pointed out possible business opportunities and cooperation in the energy sector as Cuba, suffering from chronic electricity shortages, is looking for ways to expand electricity generating facilities and renewable energy use. Medical and biotechnology were also cited as potential sectors for future economic and research cooperation between the two, the office said. “Cuba had been an untapped market,” it said, “Direct trade is still very limited due to the U.S. sanctions, but we will take this opportunity of the formal diplomatic ties to lay the groundwork for gradual expansion of economic cooperation. “Seoul is planning to set up a consulate there to help Korean visitors to the country. Prior to the outbreak of the 메이저 COVID-19 pandemic, an estimated 14,000 Korean nationals visited the country every year. 

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