|Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung (left behind) and South Korean President Park Geun-hye (right behind) witness the signing ceremony of the agreement marking the end of negotiations for a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) between the two countries. — VNA/VNS Photo Duc Tam
BUSAN (VNS) — President of the Republic of Korea (RoK) Park Geun-hye and Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung yesterday hailed the conclusion of negotiations for a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) as an important event in the countries' trade relations. The FTA will increase two-way trade to US$70 billion by 2020 and also raise the strategic co-operative partnership between the two countries to new heights, they said. PM Dung is on a three-day working visit to the RoK. He is also attending the commemorative summit marking 25 years of ASEAN-RoK relations.
Speaking highly of the RoK's commitment and preparedness to improve the trade imbalance between the two nations, PM Dung asked the RoK government to encourage both big corporations and small to medium-sized enterprises to invest in Viet Nam. Dung trumpeted the need for such investments in hi-tech and support industries, electronics, manufacturing and processing industries, energy and infrastructure development in industrial zones.
The PM also appealed to the RoK for more policies to assist Vietnamese communities in the RoK.
President Park Geun-hye, for her part, reiterated that the RoK considers Viet Nam as the number one partner in its policy of official development assistance (ODA), pledging priority to infrastructure, green growth and human resource projects.
The leaders agreed that recent sharing of strategic benefits and political trust between the two countries laid an important foundation for a further deepening of bilateral ties as peace, stability and co-operation continue to develop in the Asia-Pacific region.
They agreed to maintain regular high-level visits and contact. They further promised to expand co-ordination between ministries and agencies at the same time as implementing new dialogue mechanisms in the fields of diplomacy, national defence and security. Defence industry, training, trans-national crime prevention and anti-terrorism are at the top of the list for improved dialogues.
President Park Geun-hye promised to consider extending a special memorandum of understanding on labour cooperation between the two countries which, she said, will benefit both sides.
Both host and guest concurred that the maintenance of peace, stability, security, maritime and aviation safety in the East Sea is a common interest for both countries in and outside the region. They also jointly suggested that ASEAN and China abide by the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea and move towards an early finalisation of the Code of Conduct in the East Sea.
Turning to other regional and global issues of shared concern, they expressed satisfaction with the strong development of the ASEAN – RoK strategic partnership and agreed to work closely together through ASEAN cooperative mechanisms and at other multilateral forums.
Note on FTA talks
Also yesterday, Prime Minister Dung and President Park Geun-hye witnessed the signing of a note on completing negotiations for a bilateral free trade agreement.
The agreement covers the trading of goods and services, investment, intellectual property, food hygiene and safety, rules of origin, customs facilitation, trade defence, technical barriers in trade, e-commerce, institutions and law, and economic cooperation.
The RoK will offer tariff cuts and new export opportunities for Viet Nam's key agriculture and fisheries products including shrimp, fish and tropical fruits, as well as industrial products like garments and machinery.
South Korea has also agreed to create more growth opportunities for Viet Nam's services and investment sectors and to provide technical assistance in various fields.
For the first time, it will allow the import of Vietnamese garlic, ginger, honey and shrimp, giving Viet Nam a competitive edge in the region.
Meanwhile, Viet Nam will offer preferential treatment for industrial products from South Korea, including materials and accessories for the textiles-garment sector, plastic materials, electronic parts, trucks and cars of 2,500cc and over, automobile parts, electrical home appliances, iron and steel products and electric cable.
The RoK will liberalise tariffs for 95.43 per cent of its tax lines, while the figure for Viet Nam is 89.75 per cent.
The two sides are scheduled to complete negotiations on remaining technical issues and finalise necessary procedures to officially sign the agreement early next year.
Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung promised all possible support for South Korean businesses to invest in Viet Nam when he met with the Korean business community in Busan City yesterday.
Talking with representatives from over 40 enterprises, the PM noted with pleasure that the Republic of Korea (RoK) is currently the largest foreign investor in Viet Nam with nearly $37 billion in total investments so far.
The PM cited several other figures to highlight the economic ties between the two countries.
Two-way trade between the two countries has grown steadily by around 20 per cent annually and the RoK is the nation's third largest trade partner, he said. The RoK is also the second largest source of tourists and provider of official development assistance for Viet Nam, after Japan, he added.
With a bilateral free trade agreement slated for signing in early 2015, he is confident in the good prospects for further growth in bilateral economic, trade and investment ties, the PM said.
Viet Nam has been improving its business climate to catch up with other regional nations, he noted. — VNS