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Moon vows continued efforts to expand ties with ASEAN countries

All News 11:36 November 20, 2018

SEOUL, Nov. 20 (Yonhap) -- President Moon Jae-in on Tuesday called for stepped-up efforts to further enhance South Korea's relations with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

"ASEAN is already the world's second-largest market for us after China," the president said in a weekly Cabinet meeting at his office Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul.

"It represents the region most frequently visited by our people and the first passage through which Hallyu spreads," he added. "Hallyu" is the Korean wave of popular culture.

Moon noted the country's trade with the 10-member ASEAN spiked 25 percent on-year in 2017.

The president made a four-day trip to Singapore last week for the annual regional summits hosted by the ASEAN.

President Moon Jae-in (second from L) speaks in a weekly Cabinet meeting held at his office Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul on Nov. 20, 2018. (Yonhap)

President Moon Jae-in (second from L) speaks in a weekly Cabinet meeting held at his office Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul on Nov. 20, 2018. (Yonhap)

"Vietnam alone has a population of 100 million with an economic growth rate of 7 percent. India is expected to become the world's third-largest economy after becoming the world's most populous nation in a few years," Moon said, according to Cheong Wa Dae pool reports.

The president highlighted the need to work with the Asian neighbors.

"ASEAN, India and Australia have expressed their welcome and support for the New Southern Policy that seeks to promote peace and co-prosperity. As much as ASEAN and India are interested (in the New Southern Policy), we need to take special interest and efforts in our relationship with those countries," he said.

Under the New Southern Policy, Seoul seeks to boost the country's bilateral trade with ASEAN countries to more than US$200 billion in 2020. Moon and the heads of the 10 ASEAN countries have also agreed to efforts to boost the number of visitors between the two sides to over 15 million by 2020.

Seoul plans to host a special South Korea-ASEAN summit in 2019, which marks the 30th anniversary of relations between the two sides.

Moon ordered the government to immediately begin preparations for the summit.

"I ask you to thoroughly prepare (for the summit) by launching a pan-government preparation committee as it will not only be the first regional summit to be held (in the country) since the launch of our administration but also be an opportunity to further expand the countries' economic cooperation and people exchange," he said.

bdk@yna.co.kr
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