Korea Joins International Energy Agency; Becomes IEA’s Twenty-Sixth Member

(Paris) — 20 April 2001

Korea was invited today to become the twenty-sixth Member of the Paris-based International Energy Agency. "We heartily welcome the Koreans," said Robert Priddle, the IEA’s Executive Director. "Their membership will strengthen the Agency presence and influence in the Pacific Region."

Korea joined the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development in 1996. The country began talks on IEA membership in 1993. Korea has accumulated emergency oil stocks above 90 days of oil imports, thereby fulfilling a key requirement for all members the Agency. Having completed the pre-accession process early this year, the Korean government formally applied on 9 April to accede to the Agreement on an International Energy Program, the IEA’s founding document. The request was approved today at a regularly scheduled meeting of the Agency’s Governing Board.

Mr. Priddle emphasized the leading role that Korea plays in world energy markets. With a population of 47 million and GDP of US $443 billion, it is a major player in the Pacific Region and far beyond. Korea is the sixth-largest oil consumer in the world, and the third largest oil importer. It is the second largest importer of coal and liquid natural gas. Seoul has begun the process of liberalising and restructuring its very large energy sector. "I am impressed by the strong development of Korea’s energy policies and programs," Mr. Priddle observed. "I welcome their contribution to our collective energy security."

The IEA was founded in 1974, in the wake of the first oil shock, to represent major energy-consuming nations and to work for stability in world energy markets. It is an autonomous body within the OECD family. Members include the 15 nations of the European Union, Switzerland, Norway, Turkey, the United States, Canada, Japan, Australia and New Zealand, which have been joined recently by Hungary, and the Czech Republic. The European Commission participates in the Agency’s work. Poland and the Slovak Republic are both candidates for IEA membership.

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