(ATTN: RECASTS throughout with Vietnamese president's remarks; ADDS more photos and bylines)
By Kim Seung-yeon and Kang Yoon-seung
SEOUL, Dec. 6 (Yonhap) -- South Korea and Vietnam share ample business potential and opportunities for future growth, Vietnamese President Nguyen Xuan Phuc said Tuesday, expressing hope for more investment from South Korean companies down the road.
Phuc made the remarks at a business forum on the second day of his three-day state visit to Seoul that began with the summit with President Yoon Suk-yeol on Monday. The two leaders agreed to elevate the bilateral relations to a "comprehensive, strategic partnership."
"South Korea and Vietnam have a lot of potential and opportunities that can help achieve a strong development in harmony with the trends of the global fourth industrial revolution, such as the transition to digital economy, green growth with renewable and new energy, and big data, artificial intelligence and bio technologies," Phuc said at the forum hosted by the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Phuc said Vietnam will focus on "exerting its strength" in the global supply chain, green growth and transition to digital economy and vowed to "develop and invest in important projects" that can quickly penetrate into the economy.
"I have no doubt that foreign companies, especially Korean companies, will contribute a lot to Vietnam's continuous and rapid economic development," he said.
Some 300 business leaders of the two countries attended the event for discussions on the bilateral economic cooperation in areas like a transition to green energy, in a step toward carbon neutrality and sustainable growth.
Among those at the session were Finance Minister Choo Kyung-ho, Vietnam's Deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh and Industry Minister Nguyen Hong Dien.
During the forum, Choo expressed hope for expanding bilateral ties in the supply chain amid global challenges.
"Last year, South Korea overcame supply shortages of urea solution on the back of support from Vietnam. South Korea supplied COVID-19 vaccines to Vietnam, which shed light on the value of bilateral cooperation," Choo said.
"Based on such experiences, South Korea and Vietnam will lead regional economic and trade regimes, including the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, and bolster ties in the international division of labor and supply chain," Choo said.
Choo said that based on such efforts, the two countries can reach a combined bilateral trade of US$100 billion in 2023.
The trade between South Korea and Vietnam came to $80.7 billion in 2021, rising sharply from $69.1 billion tallied a year earlier.
Participants noted that how to achieve carbon emission reduction goals remains a challenge for manufacturing-oriented Vietnam, and South Korea can be a key partner in facilitating Hanoi's energy transition in the long term with its strengths in sustainable energy.
"Korea's energy industry has experience in infrastructure investment and construction, financial investment capacity based on pension funds, and solutions for various energy sources, such as LNG, solar power, hydrogen and ESS (energy storage system)," Hanwha Energy CEO Jung In-sub, one of the speakers for the session, said.
"We highly anticipate Vietnam cooperating with us for its sustainable economic growth," Jung said.
Joo Si-bo, CEO of POSCO International and chair of the Korea-Vietnam economic cooperation committee, called for the two countries to make close joint efforts to address various global issues, such as the intensifying economic nationalism and competition over supply chains.
The two sides also signed more than a dozen memorandums of understanding on aviation, smart city, retail, agriculture and digital technologies.
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