South Korea and Saudi Arabia have agreed to advance their defense cooperation, focusing on weapons development and production.
The two sides finalized a memorandum of understanding during South Korean Minister of National Defense Shin Won-sik’s visit to Riyadh for the World Defense Show. He met with Saudi Arabian Minister of Defense Khalid bin Salman Al Saud to witness the signing ceremony.
In a press release, Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration said the deal will establish a joint committee supporting projects to design and manufacture weapons systems. Shin characterized the MOU as a “future-oriented strategic partnership.”
According to DAPA Director Eom Dong-hwan, the agreement “is expected to strengthen Korea’s status as an emerging arms supplier in the global arms industry.”
He noted that Seoul has proven it could provide weapon systems on time even as the war in Ukraine has exposed the limited capacity of the Western defense industry.
Reuters said the bilateral agreement was announced as South Korea aims to secure its position as one of the world’s major weapons suppliers. It cited government figures of arms sales reaching $17 billion in 2022. The country’s weapons exports to the Middle East have increased by nearly 10 times in the past decade.
According to a report from a London-based think tank, Hanwha, Poongsan and LIG Nex1 have closed deals with Saudi Arabia in recent years worth $989 million in total.