Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has asked South Korea to remain a major partner of ASEAN with regards to trade, investment and mutual development. His request was made at the ASEAN-South Korea CEO Summit in Busan during a three-day official tour.
South Korea and ASEAN are now working together on four different frameworks. These include the ASEAN Plus Three Cooperation, the East Asia Summit, the Framework Agreement on Comprehensive Economic Cooperation and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).
“The 10 ASEAN member states, together with the six partners, contribute almost 30 per cent of world trade. By the middle of this century, that figure could rise to 50 per cent,” explained Najib, as he cited reasons why greater collaboration between ASEAN and its partners will be more crucial going forward.
Najib said Korean businesses have helped contribute to the economic advancement of ASEAN by supporting fast-growing businesses and investing in the region’s future. “And now, together they must set the direction for ASEAN-Korea relations for the next decade.”
South Korea is ASEAN’s second largest trading partner. Trade between the two countries rose from US$61 billion in 2006 to US$135 billion in 2013.
Meanwhile, South Korea also became the fifth biggest source of foreign direct investment (FDI) in ASEAN last year. The country’s FDI was US$3.5 billion in 2013, more than doubling from US$1.7 billion in 2012.
Malaysia will take over the ASEAN chair in 2015 and according to Najib, this year holds a special significance for his government because it is when the ASEAN Economic Community will come into effect, transforming the region into a single union to promote a free flow of investment, trade and labor.
“We have much to do, and we value the partnership of our friends and allies as we seek to build a more connected ASEAN. I ask that Korea remains our strategic partner as we start a course towards deeper economic integration. A dynamic ASEAN is a rising tide – for Asia and for the world.”