KOTRA first opened its doors in Korea in 1962 with the aim of contributing to the development of the national economy. As the national trade investment promotion agency, the company focused on trade promotion, investment between domestic and foreign companies, and support of industrial technology.
Over the years, the service portfolio has evolved to include further international development cooperation, global business training, and support for SMEs in overseas markets. But the goal of strengthening economies and attracting foreign investment has remained steadfast.
In the 1970s, leaders at KOTRA spotted many similarities between the rate of development in Korea and the UAE. With this in mind, KOTRA opened its first office in Dubai in 1976, laying the foundation for a solid and fruitful relationship that remains in place to this day.
In the years since, KOTRA’s Dubai office has become the company’s MENA headquarters – overseeing 14 others in the region. At the same time, Korea would go on to become a top trading partner of the UAE, thanks in no small part to the close bond formed by KOTRA between the two countries.
Over the last five decades, KOTRA has pioneered several industry-leading initiatives, including launching an online portal for investment in Korea back in 2003 and KOTRA Academy, one of the first professional learning centres of international business.
Another game-changing offering from KOTRA is its Seal of Excellence, developed to denote organisations that score highly across three vital criteria – quality, technology and trustworthiness. The Seal, which helps companies identify the best companies, products and services in Korea, is now globally recognised and been awarded to over 430 organisations.
Today, KOTRA has 127 trade centres in 84 countries, including 16 headquarters, 33 department offices, and strategic business support centres in Silicon Valley, Dubai and Hanoi.
As of 2020, the organisation has assisted in attracting almost USD 12.9bn to Korea across more than 1,400 foreign direct investment projects.