The Republic of Korea’ s New Southern Policy aims for a closer relationship with ASEAN in trade, investment, culture, tourism and people to people partnerships. — VNS Photo Mỹ Hà
Viet Nam News
SEOUL— The sixth ASEAN Connectivity Forum, the only forum on investment in ASEAN countries, opened on Tuesday in Seoul, South Korea.
Home to 640 million people, ASEAN has a GDP of US$ 2.8 trillion and average annual growth of five per cent. ASEAN is currently the world’s fifth-largest economic power, playing an increasingly important role in the broader global economy. The region is the second largest trading partner of the Republic of Korea (RoK).
In his opening remarks, Ambassador Lee Hyuk, Secretary General of ASEAN-Korea Centre said, "ASEAN is Korea’s third largest investment destination with investment of $5 billion last year."
According to RoK President Moon Jae-in, Korea’s New Southern Policy looks to deepen the country’s engagement with ASEAN and bridge the economic gap between Korea and the region.
The New Southern Policy sets a target to reach $200 billion in bilateral trade by 2020, and to double the annual ASEAN-RoK Fund to $14 million by 2019.
The "ASEAN - Korea Infrastructure Fund" is expected to raise $100 million by 2022 to promote mutual co-operation in the four key areas of transportation, energy, water resources and smart cities.
"Korea is currently Việt Nam’s top investor at $61.5 billion," Nguyễn Việt Cường, Deputy Head of the Statistics and Information Division from the Foreign Investment Agency under the Ministry of Planning and Investment, told Việt Nam News. "The relationship between Korea and Việt Nam has been developing well and we see steady growth of registered investment of $5 billion a year."
Việt Nam calls on Public-Private Partnership (PPP) investment to upgrade the country’s ailing 3,000km plus railway system at the forum.
The forum will hold panels to discuss prospective issues on transportation, energy and PPP programmes in Việt Nam. Việt Nam’s delegation will make presentations in all of panels.
Trần Việt Dũng, head of PPP Office under MPI calls for more effective ASEAN - Korea cooperation using internet-based technology. — VNS Photo Mỹ Hà
Speaking on how to be eligible for international funding for the infrastructure projects, Jesper Pedersen, Principal Procurement Specialist from Asian Development Bank (ADB) said that many ASEAN countries are developing countries and are eligible for ADB loans.
"But we cannot finance whole projects," he said. "We can only finance up to 25 per cent of the projects."
The rest of the funding, according to successful projects in Việt Nam, comes from the Government and the private sector.
"To develop infrastructure projects, we need more energy including thermal and recyclable energy," Trần Đông Phong, Vice General Director from MPI told Việt Nam News.
He presented Việt Nam’s plan for energy development by 2030, in which coal-fired energy is expected to reach 36,000MW by 2020 and be doubled to 75,000 by 2030.
On concern over environmental issues of thermal power plants, Phong said, "With new technology, called ultra-super critical (USC), we can reduce the thermal power plant waste to one fourth of the old technology waste. Currently there are three thermal projects with Korean company POSCO using advanced and updated USC for coal-fired power plants."
Trần Việt Dũng, head of the PPP office under MPI said that Việt Nam is still in its infant stage in building smart cities.
"Bình Dương, Đà Nẵng and Hồ Chí Minh City have been chosen to start towards a smart city plan, but we need to build a common e-platform to work out necessary criteria, define resources and choose a starting point," he said.
In his presentation, Dũng called on the participants to build a data resource platform and key connecting points in member countries for more effective future co-operation.
"We are in the sixth year now, so it is time to review the past five years and make our annual meeting more effective and resourceful for everyone."
"Let’s have smart connectivity by sharing and updating information online so that we can build smart cities in each of the ASEAN countries more effectively," Trần Việt Dũng told the forum.
The four-day forum will conclude on Thursday. — VNS