Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Friday (Dec 12) called for more trade and greater connectivity between ASEAN and South Korea.
Speaking at the first ASEAN-Republic of Korea Commemorative Summit session in Busan, Mr Lee said there are “strong reasons” to promote this. ASEAN is now South Korea’s second-largest trading partner, with trade amounting to US$135 billion (S$178 billion), while South Korea is the bloc’s fifth-largest trading partner.
ASEAN’s goal to raise trade volume with South Korea to US$200 billion by 2020 is achievable, Mr Lee said, adding that this can be done by enhancing the utilisation of the ASEAN-South Korea Free Trade Agreement (FTA).
Mr Lee also said that the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which will be the largest FTA in the world, should be “swiftly” concluded.
On enhancing connectivity, Mr Lee spoke of the need to conclude a liberal ASEAN-South Korea air services agreement, which includes the exchange of mutually beneficial traffic rights. Air services between Southeast Asian cities and South Korea should be built up to boost trade, tourism and economic growth, he said.
On ASEAN’s endeavour to contribute to peace and stability in the region, Mr Lee said Singapore’s position is that all parties should take the long-term view of the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula through “peaceful and diplomatic means".
"A Korean Peninsula that is stable and nuclear-free is crucial for regional stability and prosperity," he said.
During the summit, Mr Lee also conveyed his condolences to Philippine President Benigno Aquino for the lives lost in Typhoon Hagupit.