Moon wants better links with Asean business
Speaking at the Asean-Republic of Korea CEO Summit on Monday, during Asean-Republic of Korea Commemorative Summit, Moon emphasized the significance of Asean to Korea beyond economic and trade relations.
“Asean is forever a friend to Korea and shares a common destiny,” said Moon, during the summit held at the Busan Exhibition and Convention Center. “By expanding technological cooperation and trade, we will raise our competitiveness in an age of new technological revolution.”
If remaining obstacles to complete denuclearization and lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula are overcome, he added, “East Asia can truly become one community.”
The comments reflect Moon’s New Southern Policy, which endeavors to shift focus more toward Southeast Asian countries as Korea pivots from its established focus on the United States and China as it faces new and increasing diplomatic and economic challenges.
“The New Southern Policy may be Moon’s greatest foreign policy legacy,” said Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha Womans University.
Under the current administration, trade with Asean has steadily grown. Trade between the two stood at $119 billion in 2016 and rose to $160 billion last year.
The economic bloc was Korea’s second-largest trading partner in 2018 after China. Korea was Asean’s fifth-largest trade partner last year.
Moon outlined efforts to further grow the partnership through new joint investment and increased cooperation.
“By supporting the establishment of education and research centers, such as the Vietnam-Korea Institute of Science and Technology and the Myanmar Development Institute, we will share our economic development experience,” said Moon, who highlighted joint investment funds. “The Asean-Republic of Korea Cooperation Fund has been increased by twofold to $14 million annually from this year.”
“The Mekong-Republic of Korea Cooperation Fund will increase to $3 million annually by next year.”
The CEO Summit was also attended by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha of Thailand, Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith of Laos, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad of Malaysia, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc of Vietnam, Indonesian President Joko Widodo and Myanmar State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi. It was attended by 225 companies from Asean and Korea, such as Samsung Electronics, Hyundai Motor, LG Electronics, Lotte, Posco International, Malaysia’s Halal Industry Development, the Philippines’ Trion Group and JPX Thailand.
Jim Rogers, an American investor, gave a presentation at the event, outlining the potential of Asean as a future global leader.
Following the CEO Summit, Moon attended the Korea-Asean Culture Innovation Forum, which was also attended by three Asean leaders, and emphasized further cooperation through culture.
“When Asean meets Korea, Asean’s culture will become a culture of the world,” Moon said. “I propose today that we work together to transform K-culture to Asean culture and approach the world.”
Helped in part by Hallyu, or the Korean Wave, which started in the 1990s, Korea has become the world’s 7th-largest content provider, Moon said.
“Cultural content exports grew more than 16 percent annually over the past five years,” Moon said. “Last year, Korea’s content exports totaled $10 billion.”
Moon said the success of the Korean wave was driven in part by its popularity in Asia, and he promised that Korea will become a cultural content partner with Asean countries.
He said the Culture Innovation Forum will be held routinely starting next year.
Following Moon’s speech, Big Hit Entertainment’s CEO Bang Si-hyuk, the producer of K-pop megastar boy band BTS, and Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix, gave presentations to about 700 attendees. Moon’s speech and their talks were aired live.
Moon also held a series of bilateral meetings throughout the day, with the Thai prime minister, Indonesian president and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.
Korea and Indonesia finalized a trade deal and signed a memorandum of understanding for technological cooperation in Indonesia’s plans to build a new capital city.
In the evening, Moon hosted a summit dinner attended by the nine Asean leaders, their delegations and business leaders, including three chaebol executives - Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong, Hyundai Motor Group Vice Chairman Euisun Chung and SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won.
Diplomatic experts said the Korea-Asean special summit would generate positive outcomes for the Moon administration’s foreign policy, amid a series of diplomatic crises Korea is experiencing with its traditional partners.
BY CHAE YUN-HWAN, SER MYO-JA [firstname.lastname@example.org]