Asean-Korea summit honors ties

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Asean-Korea summit honors ties

The two-day 2014 Asean-Republic of Korean Commemorative Summit, slated to kick off on Thursday in Busan, will provide an opportunity for leaders to assess cooperative ties between Seoul and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) over the past 25 years, the Blue house said on Tuesday.

The gathering, it added, will also help to outline a blueprint for the Asean Economic Community (AEC) to be launched next year.

The summit is intended to be an official celebratory event and is not a part of regularly held Asean meetings.

“The Korea-Asean summit is the first multilateral summit that President Park Geun-hye is hosting since her inauguration,” Ju Chul-ki, the senior presidential secretary for foreign affairs and security, said in a briefing.

“The event is meaningful in that it will wrap up multilateral summit diplomacy for this year, which began with the United Nations General Assembly in September and continued to the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) in October and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, Asean Plus 3 and Group of 20 summits in November.”

National leaders from Asean countries are also set to hold bilateral meetings in Busan as well as in Seoul on the sidelines of the commemorative summit.

On Tuesday, Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Muizzadin Waddaulah, the sultan of Brunei, visited the Blue House as a state guest to sit down for a face-to-face meeting with President Park Geun-hye at the Blue House before heading down to Busan.

The prime ministers of Malaysia and Cambodia are set to meet Park at the presidential office on Wednesday and Saturday, respectively.

Seven additional one-on-one summit talks are scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday in Busan between the president and leaders of each country.

In the post-BRICS era, Asean has emerged as a new economic bloc that has the potential to greatly influence and spearhead the global economy, said Ahn Jong-beom, the senior presidential secretary for economic affairs.

This makes the upcoming summit all the more critical, he added.

With a combined population totaling 637 million, or 8.9 percent of the world’s population, Asean’s 10 member countries posted an average of 5 percent economic growth in 2013 - compared to just 2.4 percent for the entire world. Such an ample labor capacity and potential consumer demographic make the region an attractive investment destination and business partner, experts have said.

Last year, Asean was the second-largest trading partner worldwide for Korea, with trade volume at $135.3 billion, just trailing China. Korea aims to expand that volume to $150 billion by 2015 and $200 billion by 2020.

Major economic agenda items to be discussed during the commemorative summit include the revision of a rule that Korea believes has thus far blocked the active implementation of the free trade agreement (FTA) between Korea and Asean that took effect in 2009.

The rule regards the principle of reciprocity. In this case, if one country exports a sensitive-track product that maintains either a non-scheduled or high-duty rate, the importing partner must also apply the same rate even if the product in question may be subject to tariff elimination.

Ahn said Korea plans to forge a deal with six countries - Brunei, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore and Vietnam - to scrap the rule.

The Korean government sees the summit, in part, as a chance to help local builders advance further into the market.

BY SEO JI-EUN [spring@joongang.co.kr]



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