Asean, South Korea seek to boost trade to $200B by 2020
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the Republic of Korea set up a business council in December in a bid to further enhance economic cooperation and boost total trade to $200 billion by 2020.
The business council is expected to facilitate the entry of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) from the 10 member states of the Asean, which include the Philippines, and Korea, into each other’s markets and promote bilateral trade and investment, according to a joint statement issued following the Asean-ROK commemorative summit last month.
To achieve this, both parties agreed to “strengthen efforts to improve the trade balance between both sides including where possible by providing greater market access for goods and services.”
There was also a renewed push to “promote economic growth and development by strengthening cooperation in areas of mutual interests related to trade in goods, trade in services and investment through trade facilitation and other regulatory improvements and encourage greater involvement from the private sectors.”
This is expected to be achieved by maximizing the use of the Asean-ROK Free Trade Agreement, which in turn is expected to enable both parties to expand trade volumes.
As of end-2013, total trade between Asean and Korea was estimated at $135 billion while total investments amounted to roughly $4 billion.
There was also a steady increase in the number of visitors traveling between Asean member states and Korea over the years, averaging more than five million people per year.
Both parties are likewise looking forward to a timely conclusion of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) negotiations by the end of 2015, as this agreement is seen to further enhance regional economic partnership and integration.
RCEP refers to a bigger free trade agreement being negotiated among the 10 member states of the Asean and its six trading partners, namely Japan, China, Korea, Australia, New Zealand and India.
According to the Asean, it will also work together with Korea on capacity building measures in various fields such as finance, customs, transport, agriculture, labour, tourism, energy, food security, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), forestry, mining, fisheries, logistics, intellectual property rights, connectivity and infrastructure development.
Promoting SME partnership will be done through the sharing of best practices that will strengthen the linkages of these enterprises in the supply chain networks of both parties.
Also proposed during the summit was the establishment of the Asean-ROK innovation center aimed at enhancing innovation capacity; optimizing human capital development; and improving the capacity and capability of Asean SMEs and make them globally competitive. Amy R. Remo