ASEAN, South Korea Pledge To Boost Strategic Partnership

South Korea and ASEAN vowed this week to strengthen their strategic
cooperation and partnership, including in digital economy.

The two parties reaffirmed their commitment to work toward enhanced
cooperation at a meeting between South Korea’s Foreign Minister Kang
Kyung-wha and the Secretary-General of ASEAN Dato Lim Jock Hoi on 9
April.

Visiting foreign minister Kang conveyed her country’s commitment to
strengthen its partnership and cooperation with ASEAN as part of the New
Southern Policy announced by South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in in
2017.

South Korea wants to boost cooperation with the ASEAN bloc in areas of
mutual interest including digital economy, cyber security, disaster
management, and humanitarian assistance, minister Kang said.

ASEAN’s Secretary-General Dato Lim, for his part, welcomed South
Korea’s plan to double its contribution to the ASEAN-Korea Cooperation
Fund for 2019 to support more cooperation programmes and projects.

ASEAN and South Korea enjoy decades of dialogue relations . Their
comprehensive cooperation was elevated to strategic partnership in 2010.

In terms of trade and investment, South Korea is an important partner for
the economies in ASEAN. South Korea was ASEAN’s fifth-largest trading
partner in 2017, with two-way trade amounting to US$152.5 billion, up by
22.8 percent compared to 2016, data from ASEAN as of August 2018
showed. ASEAN’s exports to South Korea jumped by 20 percent annually
to US$54.9 billion in 2017, while ASEAN’s imports from South Korea
increased by 24.4 percent to US$97.7 billion that year.

In 2017, foreign direct investment (FDI) from South Korea to ASEAN
members came in at US$5.3 billion, making South Korea the fifth-biggest
source of FDI to ASEAN.

The ASEAN-ROK Free Trade Agreement (AKFTA) came into effect on 1
January 2010. At a summit in December 2014, ASEAN and Korea agreed
to expand two-way trade volumes to US$200 billion by 2020, including
through maximising the utilisation of the AKFTA.