South Korea remains vital regional partner to ASEAN

James Kon

South Korea remains an important partner to ASEAN, said the Permanent Secretary (Economy) at the Ministry of Finance and Economy (MoFE) Dr Hajah May Fa’ezah binti Haji Ahmad Ariffin during the 14th Annual Meeting of the Council of the ASEAN-Korea Centre (AKC) on Monday via video-conference.

The permanent secretary said bilateral merchandise trade between South Korea and ASEAN reached USD154.2 billion in 2020.

It is the region’s fourth largest trading partner and fifth largest source of foreign direct investment (FDI), she said.

She encouraged the AKC to develop work programmes that harness ongoing digital transformation initiatives in ASEAN, such as the ASEAN Digital Masterplan 2025 and the Bandar Seri Begawan Roadmap. The AKC should also look into developing programmes that could promote and enhance the understanding on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

Dr Hajah May Fa’ezah acknowledged South Korea’s support to ASEAN development has also extended to the BIMP-EAGA sub-regions, and took note on the establishment of the BIMP-EAGA-ROK Cooperation Fund which aimed to support sub-regional projects and developments focussing on connectivity, tourism and the environment.

Permanent Secretary (Economy) at the Ministry of Finance and Economy Dr Hajah May Fa’ezah binti Haji Ahmad Ariffin with representatives from ASEAN member states and South Korea during the 14th Annual Meeting of the Council of the ASEAN-Korea Centre via video conference. PHOTO: MOFE

The meeting was chaired by Director General of Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Cambodia Sim Vireak.

The permanent secretary represented Brunei Darussalam and was accompanied by officers from the Trade Division at The MoFE. Council Directors from the ASEAN member states (AMS) and South Korea as well as the Secretary General of the AKC Kim Hae-yong also attended.

The Meeting endorsed the proposed Annual Work Programmes and the Budget for the Financial Year 2022.

The Meeting took note of the recommendations on the work programmes for 2022 – which include developing programmes related to close the digital gaps, promotion of cross-border trading and protection of intellectual property rights; organising virtual or hybrid investment tours; and revitalising the industries affected by the COVID-19 pandemic; and empowering women.

The AKC was inaugurated on March 13, 2009 with the mandate to promote economic and socio-cultural cooperation between ASEAN member states and South Korea.