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Asean, South Korea slam protectionism

Ben Sokhean / Khmer Times Share:
Asean and South Korean leaders hold a meeting in Busan. TVK

Asean and South Korea yesterday adopted a joint statement to improve regional development and prosperity during the Asean-Republic of Korea Commemorative Summit in Busan, with Cambodia saying that it supported resistance to protectionism.

In a speech yesterday, South Korean President Moon Jae-in called on Asean to confront new challenges, including protectionism and transnational crimes.

“We are facing new challenges such as trade protectionism, transnational crimes and the Fourth Industrial Revolution,” Mr Moon said.

Government spokesman Phay Siphan yesterday said that Asean and South Korea should resist all forms of protectionism and enhance trade for regional prosperity.

“We do not support protectionist policy. We support a free trade market,” he said. “Some countries adhere to protectionism and it means that they do business with only other countries which give them a lot of benefits.”

Mr Siphan said that Cambodia experienced impacts of protectionism in the 1980s when the country faced the economic embargo imposed by Western countries.

Mr Moon said that trade volume between Asean and South Korea has increased to $160 billion and their mutual in and outbound investments exceeded $10 billion each year.

He said that Asean is South Korea’s second largest trade partner and its third biggest investment destination and South Korea is Asean’s fifth largest trade partner.

“We will also increase cooperation funds for Asean and Mekong countries. The Asean-ROK Cooperation Fund has been doubled to $14 million annually, beginning this year. The Mekong-ROK Cooperation Fund will expand to $3 million annually by next year,” Mr Moon said.

Asean members and South Korea agreed to advance Asean-ROK strategic partnership into the future and enhance an economic partnership, according to the joint statement released yesterday.

“[We] reiterate our commitment to support for the enhancement of trade and investment and the resistance to all forms of protectionism in order to improve regional development and prosperity, while continuing to cooperate to narrow the development gap in the region,” the statement said.

The statement also said that the two sides expressed satisfaction with the positive development of Asean-South Korea relations over the past 30 years since the establishment of Dialogue Relations in 1989.

“[We are] acknowledging the ROK’s New Southern Policy which aims to further strengthen and deepen the Asean-ROK Strategic Partnership based on the three pillars of People, Prosperity, and Peace and the ROK’s contribution to Asean Community Building, including through support for Asean’s efforts in realising Asean 2025: Forging Ahead Together,” it added.

South Korea’s Foreign Affairs Ministry yesterday issued a statement regarding the bilateral meeting between Foreign Affairs Minister Kang Kyung-wha and her Cambodian counterpart Prak Sokhonn on Monday, saying the two sides discussed ways to reinforce the institutional foundation of the South Korea-Cambodia cooperation.

“The two Ministers highly appreciated the ROK and Cambodia having developed close cooperative ties in a broad range of areas, including people-to-people exchanges, shared prosperity and development cooperation, over about 20 years since the re-establishment of diplomatic relations in 1997,” the statement said.

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