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Korea, ASEAN leaders highlight cooperation

Korea, Indonesia conclude CEPA talks, hope for RCEP.

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Updated: November 26, 2019

South Korea and Indonesia on Monday issued a joint declaration announcing the successful end of the comprehensive economic partnership agreement negotiations.

The declaration was adopted after President Moon Jae-in’s bilateral summit with President Joko Widodo of Indonesia held on the sidelines of the ASEAN-ROK Commemorative Summit that kicked off in Busan.

The Korea-Indonesia CEPA negotations were effectively wrapped up in October, and the two sides have since been working on finalizing the deal in time for the ASEAN-Korea summit.

“The two countries will seek mutually beneficial prosperity together. Bilateral trade reached $20 billion last year, and will increase due to the CEPA,” Moon said.

Korea’s exports to Indonesia amounted to $8.8 billion while imports stood at $11.2 billion in 2018, and the two sides hope to raise total trade to $30 billion by 2022.

Going on to express hopes for furthering Korea-Indonesia relations through the summit, Moon said that their relations will benefit ASEAN and the international community.

Widodo echoed Moon in stressing the importance of economic cooperation between the two countries.

“Economic cooperation between our two countries should increase,” Widodo said.

Describing the CEPA as a “symbol of the two countries’ economic liberation,” Widodo went on to express hopes that the regional comprehensive economic partnership will be signed next year.

In addition to adopting the declaration, Korea and Indonesia also signed a visa waiver treaty for diplomats and other civil servants, and a memorandum of understanding on cooperating in the project to relocate Indonesia’s capital city.

The meeting with Widodo was Moon’s second bilateral summit of the day, who began the first day of the summit conference with a meeting with Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha where the two discussed issues concerning Korea-Thailand relations, as well as those regarding the ASEAN member nations.

At the meeting, Moon stressed the importance of Korean-Thai relations and thanked the Thai prime minister for his support in advancing Korea’s relations with the ASEAN.

“Thailand is the most important partner in our government’s New Southern Policy. (I) hope for the cooperation between both countries expands into diverse areas such as defense, water management, science and technology, infrastructure,” Moon said.

Citing Thailand’s high economic growth rate and the “Thailand 4.0” policy, which includes the Eastern Economic Corridor or EEC development plan, Moon also highlighted the Thai government’s development drive and the opportunity the country represents. The EEC plan is aimed at laying the foundation for greater investment and the development of advanced industries in Thailand.

“I hope to make this an opportunity for sharing ways to increase cooperation and to share our vision through the two cooperation frameworks with other ASEAN leaders,” the Thai prime minister said, referring to the ASEAN-Korea and Mekong-Korea summits. Thailand is co-chair of both summits.

The Thai leader went on to stress the importance of closer cooperation with Korea in achieving shared goals.

After the summit, the two sides also signed memorandums of understanding on science and technology, Thailand’s EEC and immigration policies.

With the science and technology memorandum, the two countries agreed to expand the scope of cooperation in related fields to include food technology and biotechnology, high-tech areas including satellites, and research on nuclear reactors.

Concerning the EEC, the two countries agreed to exchange information and establish a support system to guide Korean companies that wish to invest in the EEC project. The immigration memorandum calls for increased cooperation to prevent illegal immigration and employment.

Moon was scheduled to meet with President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines later in the day, continuing the bilateral summits scheduled to be held on the occasion of the ASEAN-Korea summit.

Moon is set to meet with all nine ASEAN leaders attending the summit by Thursday since Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen canceled his trip to Korea as his mother-in-law is in a critical condition.

The summits with leaders of Singapore and Brunei were held in Seoul on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.

With conference sessions of the ASEAN-Korea summit scheduled for Tuesday, the attending leaders took part in economy and innovation related events.

The first multilateral event of the day was the CEO Summit, followed by ASEAN-ROK Culture Innovation Summit.

In addition to the events attended by Moon and the visiting leaders, Monday also saw a number of business and culture-related events such as the ministerial conference on the topic of smart city, and an exhibition on smart city. The first day of the ASEAN-Korea summit also saw events such as the Korea-ASEAN Fashion Week and K-beauty festival.

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The Korea Herald
About the Author: The Korea Herald is the nation’s largest English-language daily and the country’s sole member of the Asia News Network.

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