Harmonising International Development Efforts with Resource Diplomacy: Potential for the strategic use of ODA to Secure Lithium in South America

University of NSW
Publication Type:
Conference Proceeding
Proceedings of 7th Biennial Korean Studies Association of Australasia Conference, 2011, pp. 2 - 23
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Korea's current Green Growth strategy seeks to lessen the country's dependence on fossil fuel resources and promote significant investment into the development of alternative, environmentally-friendly energy sources. As part of this strategy Korea has been investing heavily in the development of various green energy industries in particular it has become one of the world's largest manufacturers of lithium based rechargeable-ion batteries to power electric or hybrid motor vehicles. The continued growth of this industry requires a secure and stable supply of lithium and to this end the Korean government has developed its so-called 'resource diplomacy' strategy which is designed promote relations with countries with significant lithium deposits such as Chile, Argentina and Bolivia. However, to date, resource diplomacy has been somewhat narrowly targeted at domestic policies that support Korean firms to invest directly in acquiring and developing lithium mines or to increasing the number of embassies in these countries. More recently the Korean government is considering broader diplomatic measures. The paper argues that resource diplomacy has the potential to be an effective means of achieving Korea's green growth objectives but that the success of this strategy must go beyond facilitating Korean direct foreign investment to become a more fully fledged cultural and foreign aid and development diplomacy strategy that promotes longer term, broader and deeper levels of engagement. This 'soft-power' approach is more likely to serve as an effective but subtle means to exert influence not only to promote specific Korean interests but to achieve longer term, mutually beneficial outcomes for both Korea and these South American nations.
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