By Joyce Ann L. Rocamora

Korean Ambassador to the Philippines Lee Sang-hwa (PNA file photo)

MANILA – South Korea remains a top development partner of the Philippines, with its official development assistance (ODA) for 2023 reaching USD80 million or around PHP4.4 billion.

In an opinion piece this week, Korean Ambassador to the Philippines Lee Sang-hwa said Seoul would continue strengthening this area of cooperation with Manila, especially as the countries prepare for their 75th anniversary of diplomatic relations in 2024.

“Development assistance is not charity. It is a great investment in security and prosperity. It is an engine of growth that creates jobs, expands market, and helps countries in transition,” he wrote.

“As the Philippines is one of the fastest growing economies in Asia with its strategic location and rich natural and human resources, Korea’s development cooperation in the country is a smart investment for a win-win partnership,” he added.

Korea and the Philippines’ more than three decades of development ties began in 1991 when some Filipino officials were invited to participate in training programs in Korea

This eventually expanded to other areas of cooperation, including agriculture, infrastructure, climate change, disaster risk reduction, health, and science, technology, and innovation.

Lee said the Korea International Cooperation Agency’s (KOICA) contribution alone increased about 40 times since the 1990s, reaching USD18.7 million in 2023.

To date, the Philippines is also one of the largest recipients of economic development cooperation fund (EDCF) from the Export-Import Bank of Korea (KEXIM).

KEXIM Bank is a state-owned credit agency that implements the EDCF, a Korean ODA program that seeks to promote economic cooperation with developing countries. (PNA)