The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and South Korea have agreed to boost investment and trade in order to speed recovery from the global economic crisis.
South Korea and Asean’s 10 members will sign the accord during a two-day summit that starts tomorrow, South Korean President Lee Myung Bak said.
The countries will also pledge to elevate their yearly trade to $150 billion by 2015 from $90 billion last year.
The summit will be held on the southern South Korean island of Jeju, and was also the site of Lee’s speech earlier this week: “A global crisis needs global countermeasures,” Lee told Korean and Asean business executives. “A joint effort between Korea and Asean, nations full of potential, is vital.”
Lee has pushed for free-trade agreements with the U.S., the European Union and with Asean to buoy exports and avoid a recession.
The won has fallen 18 percent against the dollar and 26 percent against the yen in the past 12 months.
An earlier agreement between South Korea and Asean to lower tariffs on merchandise took effect in 2007 and another on services took hold this month. South Korea exported $49 billion worth of goods to Asean nations last year and imported $41 billion.
“Regional cooperation and integration are no longer a luxury, but a necessity,” said Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva at the business leaders’ gathering. “In light of the global economic and financial crisis, we need to work more closely together to ensure that our trade and investment ties will not be seriously affected.”
Bloomberg, South Korea, Asean to Boost Investment, Lee Says , 31 May 2009, http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601080&sid=a_vrdBA_A5U4