ASEAN member countries and the Republic of Korea have not effectively taken advantage of the ASEAN – RoK Free Trade Area (AKFTA), which came into force in 2008.

The remark was made by economic experts at a workshop held in Ho Chi Minh City on November 12 to introduce AKFTA.

Five years since the agreement was signed, trade turnover between ASEAN and the RoK doubled to 131.2 billion USD in 2012. Trade between Vietnam and the RoK increased over four times, reaching 21.7 billion USD in the period. Vietnam and the RoK also cooperated effectively in many fields, especially in electronics and construction.

However, experts said that the results have not matched expectations and that they need to improve the effectiveness of the agreement.

The State’s management agencies and business community should work closely, while mapping out suitable policies to overcome difficulties in the process of participating in free trade market, such as the management of goods’ origin.

Free trade agreement (FTA) is an effective form that helps increase global competitiveness of the industry and agriculture sectors, thus many countries have used agreements to cope with the economic downturn and promote growth. The number of signed FTAs increased continuously in recent years, with about 364 inked at the end of October, 2013.

Yoo Dong Hoo from the RoK’s Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said the RoK is active in pursuing FTAs because along with removing tariff and non-tariff barriers, the form helps expand the global export market.

In order to overcome the challenges of FTAs, the RoK Government developed and provided a management system of ensuring the origin of products, while organising exchanges between its businesses and those from partner countries to enhance mutual understanding, Yoo added.

Jointly organised by the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) and the RoK’s Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh City, the workshop helped the business community of ASEAN countries and the RoK take advantage of opportunities as well as deal with challenges in implementing free trade commitments between the two sides, thus promoting market access and enhancing export.-VNA