Hanoi (VNA)
– Vietnam is seen as a gateway for businesses from the Republic of Korea (RoK) to enter the ASEAN market, said experts at a forum in Hanoi on December 3.

The forum on the RoK’s New Southern Policy and the importance of RoK-Vietnam relations was co-organised by the National Centre for Socio-economic Information and Forecasting (NCIF) and the Korean Institute for International Economic Policy (KIEP).

In his opening speech, Dr. Tran Hong Quang, NCIF Director, said over the past three decades, Vietnam-RoK relations have seen fine developments in all fields. At present, the RoK is one of the two largest foreign investors in Vietnam with accumulated capital of 57.6 billion USD by the end of 2017. Vietnam is also the fourth largest investment destination and the biggest aid recipient of the RoK.

The RoK is the second largest trade partner of Vietnam, with two way trade increasing 117 times since 1992, when the two nations set up their diplomatic ties, hitting 61.5 billion USD last year.

The two countries have also seen positive collaboration in labour, culture and tourism.

By the end of 2017, the Vietnamese community in the RoK numbered 162,000, most of them are guest workers, those getting married to Koreans, and students. Meanwhile, around 150,000 Koreans, mostly businesspeople, are living in the Southeast Asian nation.

“Vietnam always attaches importance to and wishes to deepen the strategic cooperative partnership with the RoK, which gives high priority to collaboration with ASEAN, including Vietnam,” said Quang.

Dr. Lee Jae-young, President of KIEP, said the New Southern Policy aims to raise the RoK’s cooperation and diplomatic relations with ASEAN countries and India on par with those with the US, China, Japan and Russia.

Notably, in its economic relations with ASEAN – a focus of the policy, Vietnam plays a crucial role, accounting for more than half of cooperation in almost all fields such as trade, investment, official development assistance (ODA) and people-to-people exchange.

According to Prof. Park Bun-soon from the Korea University, Vietnam is an important destination for Korean companies.

The RoK’s investment will continue to flow to Vietnam in the future, he said, noting that the country should encourage Korean investment in developing small- and medium-sized enterprises and support industries.

The RoK needs to increase ODA for Vietnam in order to transfer technologies of its multinational groups while Vietnam should create conditions for RoK investors to engage in merger and acquisition (M&A) market, he added.

At the forum, the NCIF and the KIEP signed a memorandum of understanding on cooperation in reality.-VNA