ASEAN, RoK to strengthen links

Saturday, Dec 13, 2014 11:17

Both ASEAN and Korea determine to promote Free Trade Agreement. Photo
SEOUL  (Biz Hub) — ASEAN and South Korean leaders have agreed to conclude negotiations on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement by the end of 2015.

In a joint statement issued at the end of the ASEAN-RoK Commerative Summit 2014 yesterday, they also mentioned several other issues that have been agreed upon.

The summit was held in the South Korean city of Busan to mark 25 years of relations between the two sides.

The joint statement also mentioned specific measures to further deepen the two sides' ties in all aspects.

The two sides will formulate an action plan for the 2016-2020 period, and effectively implement co-operation projects in priority areas for mutual benefit.

They will maximise benefits of the ASEAN-Korea Free Trade Agreement (AKFTA) and strive to raise two-way trade to US$150 billion by 2015 and $200 billion by 2020.

They will enhance cultural and people-to-people exchanges to boost mutual understanding alongside collaboration in human resources development .

2017 will be observed as the ASEAN-RoK cultural exchange year, they agreed.

On regional security, the two sides agreed to work together in ensuring maritime and aviation security and safety in the region, exercise self-restraint, and settle disputes by peaceful measures without the use of or threat of force in line with international law, including the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and relevant standards and practices of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).

They will promote joint efforts to deal with non-traditional security challenges like epidemics, environmental pollution and natural disasters.

Reviewing the last 25 years, leaders of both sides felt significant achievements had been made, contributing to peace, co-operation and development in the region.

ASEAN leaders hailed the active and important help rendered by South Korea towards building the ASEAN Community, enhancing connectivity, narrowing the development gap and responding to other common challenges.

President Park Geun-Hye reiterated that South Korea accorded high priority to relations with ASEAN and pledged continued support to the bloc for building the ASEAN Community as well as in carrying out the bloc's post 2015 vision.

Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung said both sides should strengthen their partnership and mutual support in all arenas. Mutual trust was key to achieving sustainable peace, stability and security, he said.

The PM also said that recent complicated developments in the East Sea testify to the need for maintaining peace, stability and maritime security in the region.

He called on all related sides to respect international law including the 1982 UNCLOS, fully abide by the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties on the East Sea and strive for an early conclusion of the Code of Conduct of Parties on the East Sea.

Refraining from the use of or threat of force as well as acts that might escalate tension would be an important confidence building measure, Dung said.

ASEAN and the RoK have enjoyed a strong and fruitful development of relations since they established dialogue partnership in 1989. In 2004, the RoK joined the Treaty of Amity and Co-operation (TAC), taking the ties between two sides to the level of comprehensive partnership. This was elevated further to the Strategic Partnership for Peace and Prosperity in 2010.

The RoK has backed all co-operation mechanisms and forums initiated by ASEAN in the region. The country is now one of ASEAN's leading economic partners with two-way trade hitting $135 billion in 2013. — VNS

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