The third South America Korean Business Convention - Asunción, Paraguay
Im Seung-gwan is selected as the new chairperson of the CACIAC.
Argentina after the pandemic is at the center of crisis due to extreme inflation, sudden rise of prices, dollar climbing, and political instability. In 2022, Argentina barely dodged their 10th default. The latest news about Argentina spreading around the world is depressing and negative, such as over an annual inflation rate of 100%, a 40% poverty rate, and a decrease in beans and corn which are the main exports to earn foreign currency by 40%. Nevertheless, Avellaneda—the economic epicenter of Koreans—is busy preparing for the new season. Avellaneda has the largest clothing wholesale area in Argentina. Koreans remain here even after the world’s famous companies and brands that entered Argentina have left due to numerous economic crises in Argentina. As always, Koreans show the nature of overcoming weak points, innovating, and adapting through crises.
Buenos Aires is a global city of politics, culture and commerce. Jews, one of the world's famous merchants and the stronghold of the financial world, and Arabs, Chinese, and Indians who dominated the Silk Road, are competing in Argentina. And Korean merchants have also shown remarkable achievements as businessmen. Koreans who immigrated to Argentina 60 years ago as farmers lived in slums and ate beef by-products dumped by the locals. But Koreans worked tenaciously while trying to mingle with the local communities. As a result, Koreans have become one of the important minority groups with good images.
As the activities of Korean businessmen became prominent and the number of companies rooted in Argentina increased, the Caimara Argentina de Comerico, Industria y Agropecuara Coreanas (CACIAC) was established on May 6, 2005. Im Seung-gwan was elected as the chairperson of the CACIAC at the end of 2022 following Shin Dong-seok (CEO of Shinjin-Tex), the first chairperson, Gwon Hyeok-tae (CEO of Linda Vista Hotel), the late Yoon Seong-il (CEO of Neo Geo), the late Lee Jae-hoon, Kim Yeong-jun, and Kim Bong-ju. New Chairperson Im Seung-gwan pays attention to the changed market and consumers after the pandemic and believes it is Koreans’ new challenge to adapt to the new environment.
Chairperson Im Seung-gwan of the CACIAC and Chairperson Celeste Castiglione of the AAEC
One of the key projects of the CACIAC is sponsoring the Korean Studies Seminar. The first Korean Studies Seminar was held at the National University of Rosario in Rosario, Santa Fe immediately after the launch of the CACIAC. The CACIAC promoted Korean Studies to the local communities by holding seminars at national universities with departments related to Korean Studies such as La Plata, Tucuman, El Salvador, Cordoba, and Buenos Aires.
The 12th Economy Seminar in 2022
Another outstanding activity is the Economy Seminar started in 2010 for the development of the textile industry, which is the central business of the Koreans in Argentina. It has been held annually until the 12th session in 2022, sharing the current situation and prospects of the Argentine economy both online and offline by inviting local economy experts and best lecturers from KOTRA.
A meeting with the representatives of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay before the fifth South American Korean Business Convention
In addition, the CACIAC stressed the need to reinforce exchanges and cooperation between Korean businessmen in South America beyond Argentina. Korean companies in South America have been running their businesses individually until now. But as the number of Korean companies increased, they came to an understanding that a meeting is necessary for information exchange, and networking. As a result, the first and second South American Korean Business Conventions were held in Buenos Aires in 2015. The South America Korean Business Night (2012, Seoul), the second convention (2016, Buenos Aires), the third convention (2017–2018, Asuncion & Ciudad del Este, Paraguay), the fifth convention (2019, Monte Video & Punta del Este, Uruguay) were held. And the sixth South America Korean Business Convention was successfully held in Sao Paulo, Brazil in 2022. Furthermore, the CACIAC has been actively joining the International Korean Business Conventions held in Korea annually, participating as a presenter of the South American forum at the convention held in Busan in 2014.
Due to the outbreak of COVID-19 in 2020, all official events were suspended in Korea and Argentina, but the CACIAC took the lead in supporting the vulnerable and continuously held economic webinars in collaboration with the Peaceful Unification Advisory Council. In addition, the CACIAC sponsored the Marine Development International Seminar in 2013 held at the Universidad Technologica Nacional to raise interest in the fishing industry considered as a potential market for Koreans in Argentina. Furthermore, efforts have been made to solidify cooperation with the local communities, such as concluding an exchange agreement with the province of Rural Buenos Aires (2016) and holding meetings with government officials of Pilar. The CACIAC is also cooperating with local companies by joining the Camara de Comercio Argentina para el Asia y el Pacifico, a gathering of local companies in Argentina that trade with Asian countries.
The CACIAC is exerting a major influence on Korean residents by providing free influenza vaccines as part of the projects for overseas Koreans.
Supporting free influenza vaccines in collaboration with the KAMHSA in 2022
To cooperate with local organizations, the CACIAC formed a network of businessmen across Asia and Korea through exchanges with Cámara del Asia, which is a cooperative body of entrepreneurs entering or seeking business in Asia. The CACIAC holds the Grupo Amistoso de Empresarios Coreanos y Argentinos (GAEMCOA) event every year with the Embassy of the Republic of Korea in Argentina, KOTRA Buenos Aires, and Cámara del Asia to boost exchanges and cooperation.
GAEMCOA Event in 2019
The CACIAC is also promoting cooperation with Korea and local organizations through MOUs. The CACIAC signed MOUs with the Korean American Apparel Manufacturers Association, Korea Federation of Textile Industries, Daegu Gyeongbuk Textile Industries Association, KOCHAM Brasil, and Dongdaemun Sewing Association in 2005 as the start and continued with Sociedad Argentina de Corea in 2009, Korea American Small Business USA and Korean American Chamber of Commerce (GA-ATL) in 2011, Korean American Chamber of Commerce (Washington State) in 2014, Gyeongsan of Gyeongsangbuk-do Korea in 2015, Rural Buenos Aires in 2016, Korean American Chamber of Commerce (Los Angeles) in 2018, and Jinju of Gyeongsangnam-do Korea in 2022. Through steady exchanges and business cooperation with established associations, cities, and organizations in Buenos Aires, the CACIAC is doing its best not only in economic cooperation but also in cultural exchanges.
The CACIAC jumped in to the cultural sector and economy sector to support and sponsor various fields such as Korean restaurants, film documentary productions, and local media and publishing businesses.
Signing of mutual exchange agreement with Jinju, Gyeongsangnam-do, Korea in 2022
Chairperson Im Seung-gwan ambitiously answered the question about how the organization will be led and stated, “The second and third generations of immigrants tend to have loosen emotional solidarity to their mother country, unlike the first generation. They have a stronger identity as Argentine than Korean. Since business is a field that transcends age, we are trying to communicate with the youths through meetings and provide an opportunity to understand their thoughts and world. I hope that this organization will be an opportunity for young people to be included and united.” Chairperson Im, who immigrated to Argentina over 40 years ago, understands both the locals and the Koreans. He expressed regret that Korea and Argentina lack in understanding of each other because of the long distance and lack of exchanges when Korea’s manufacturing technology and Argentina’s resources can create synergetic effects if both countries cooperate. He mentioned that he hopes that the CACIAC can be a bridge between Korea and Argentina and contribute to the increased understanding and communication between the two countries.
Video of the 12th Economy Seminar of the CACIAC
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