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ASEAN-Korea Free Trade Area increases Bilateral Trade by 92.3 per cent

Date of Publication: 10 September 2017; Source: Bernama

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 10 (Bernama) - Bilateral trade between ASEAN and South Korea has increased by 92.3 per cent to US$118.84 billion in 2016 from US$61.81 billion in 2006 since the ASEAN-KOREA Free Trade Area (AKFTA) took effect in 2007.

Economic ministers from ASEAN and the Republic of Korea (ROK) met on Sept 8, 2017 in Pasay City, Philippines, for the 14th AEM-ROK Consultations, co-chaired by Ramon M. Lopez, Secretary of Trade and Industry of the Philippines and Kim Hyun-chong, Minister for Trade of the Republic of Korea.

The ministers reaffirmed their commitment to strengthen economic cooperation towards shared prosperity and inclusive growth, the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) said in a statement today.

Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) flows from Korea to ASEAN stood at an annual average of US$6 billion in the past 10 years (from 2007 to 2016), a 5.4 times increase compared with the past 10 years before AKFTA took effect (from 1997 to 2006).

With these developments, ASEAN took its position as Korea´s second largest trading partner and Korea´s second largest investment destination.

Among ASEAN´s dialogue partners, Korea maintained its position as ASEAN´s fifth largest trading partner and ASEAN´s fifth largest external source of FDIs.

The ministers also noted the progress made towards the implementation of the Third Protocol to Amend the ASEAN-Korea Trade in Goods Agreement (AKTIGA).

Recalling the two-way trade target of US$200 billion by 2020 as set by the leaders, the ministers looked forward to the early ratification and full implementation of the third protocol, which would further facilitate trade between ASEAN and Korea.

The ministers noted the progress in the negotiations for further liberalisation of sensitive track products under the AKTIGA and looked forward to substantive outcomes from the negotiation.

They also underlined the importance of the timely completion and implementation of the transposition of the AKFTA Tariff Reduction Schedules and Rules of Origin Product Specific Rules (PSRs) from Harmonised System Codes (HS) 2012 into HS 2017 to facilitate cross-border transactions.

In this regard, the ministers were pleased to note the finalisation of the transposition of AKFTA PSRs from HS 2012 into HS 2017, added MITI.

The ministry also said the ministers appreciated the good progress made in economic cooperation activities between ASEAN and Korea, including capacity building under the Technical Advice and Solutions from Korea (TASK) programme and other projects funded under the ASEAN-Korea Economic Cooperation (AKEC) Fund.

Ministers welcomed the participation of Indonesia, Myanmar, and Thailand in the TASK Programme and the approval of eight projects under AKEC Fund to support the implementation of the AKFTA and to improve AMS´ capacity in the areas of trade facilitation, agriculture and fisheries, healthcare, tourism, and sustainable development.

They also noted the various activities undertaken by the ASEAN-Korea Business Council (AKBC) and commended the role of AKBC in promoting interaction among the private sector including Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).

To this end, the ministers welcomed the progress in setting up sectoral boards in the areas of steel industry and healthcare, the newly launched ASEAN-Korea SMEs Business Delegation programme and the progress in establishing the official website for the AKBC, which would facilitate deeper cooperation and networking among companies of ASEAN and Korea.

ASEAN Ministers also welcomed Korea's hosting of the forthcoming 7th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Economic Ministers' Meeting (EMM) on Sept 21 22, 2017 in Seoul, Korea, with the theme, "Reconnecting Asia-Europe: Innovative Partnership for Inclusive Prosperity".

They looked forward to the successful convening of the 7th ASEM EMM under Korea's able chairmanship.

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