At the meeting (Source: VNA)
Vientiane (VNA) – Minister of Trade, Industry and Energy of the Republic of Korea (RoK) Joo Hyung-hwan has hailed the establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) in 2015 as a great turning point in regional economic integration.

He made the praise during the 13th consultation meeting between ASEAN economic ministers and Minister for Trade of the Republic of Korea (RoK) in Vientiane, Laos on August 4, which was within the framework of the 48 th ASEAN Economic Ministers’ Meeting and related meetings.

The RoK minister also lauded the AEC’s New Roadmap 2015, saying that it will develop AEC into a competitive, connected, creative and innovative bloc through increased connectivity and cooperation.

Two-way trade between the RoK and ASEAN soared to 122.9 billion USD in 2015, or 5.4 percent of ASEAN’s total trade, making the RoK the fifth largest partner of ASEAN.

The same year, the RoK’s direct investment in ASEAN hit 5.7 billion USD, becoming the fifth largest source of foreign direct investment in the region.

Ministers praised the third protocol amending the ASEAN-Korea Trade in Goods Agreement, which took force on January 1 in Thailand and the RoK, February 11 in Myanmar, April 6 in Singapore, June 10 in Laos, July 14 in the Philippines and July 26 in Malaysia.

They expressed hope that the protocol will facilitate ASEAN-RoK trade which is expected to rise to 200 billion USD by 2020, and reiterated their leaders’ vision that the ASEAN-RoK Business Council should enhance collaboration in micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, possibly in the fields of human resources development and value chain.

Participants expressed their pleasure with the progress of bilateral economic cooperation, including projects within the ASEAN-Korea Economic Cooperation Fund (AKEC) framework.

Following the 12th consultation meeting in August 2015, eight projects within the AKEC framework were adopted by ASEAN and the RoK to facilitate the implementation of the ASEAN-RoK Free Trade Agreement and improve ASEAN member states’ capacity for trade facilitation, manpower and sustainable development.-VNA