South Korean President Moon Jae-in (C) poses for a group photo with leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)'s 10 member countries during the 2019 ASEAN-ROK Commemorative Summit in Busan, South Korea, Nov. 26, 2019. The 10 member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and South Korea agreed on Tuesday to resist all forms of protectionism and enhance trade for regional prosperity. (2019 ASEAN-ROK Commemorative Summit Organizing Committee/Handout via Xinhua)
BUSAN, South Korea, Nov. 26 (Xinhua) -- The 10 member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and South Korea agreed on Tuesday to resist all forms of protectionism and enhance trade for regional prosperity.
The agreement was reached after the two-day ASEAN-ROK Commemorative Summit was held in Busan, the southern port city of South Korea, to celebrate the 30th anniversary of dialogue relations between the two sides. ROK stands for the Republic of Korea, South Korea's official name.
In a joint vision statement released after the summit, ASEAN and South Korea agreed to their "commitment to support the enhancement of trade and investment and the resistance to all forms of protectionism in order to improve regional development and prosperity."
"We are facing new challenges such as trade protectionism, transnational crimes and the Fourth Industrial Revolution," South Korean President Moon Jae-in said during a formal session of the group summit.
Moon offered to overcome the challenges through "cooperation and solidarity" between the two sides, and build a fair, free "trade community" to prevent trade protectionism from shrinking trade and investment in the region.
The special summit was co-chaired by Moon and Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha. In a statement, they welcomed the conclusion of text-based negotiations on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).
They agreed to work together on outstanding issues with a view to signing the agreement in 2020, saying it would create a "modern, comprehensive, high-quality and mutually beneficial" RCEP agreement.
Fifteen RCEP participating countries concluded text-based negotiations and all market access issues earlier this month in Bangkok, Thailand, with an aim to sign the mega free-trade pact next year.
Initiated in 2012, the RCEP brought together 10 member countries of the ASEAN and their six trade partners in the region, including China, South Korea, Japan, India, Australia and New Zealand.
Moon said in a joint statement that South Korea and the ASEAN will move toward an "innovative community of win-win prosperity" with free trade as the two sides reconfirmed that free trade is a path to co-prosperity amid a growing concern about trade protectionism across the world.
He noted that his country and Southeast Asian nations hailed the RCEP conclusion and agreed to defend free trade based on their free trade agreement (FTA) that came into force in 2012.
The ASEAN and South Korea agreed to redouble efforts for economic cooperation by expanding trade, investment, connectivity and partnership for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and start-ups, according to the joint vision statement.
To enhance regional connectivity and facilitate cross-border trade and personnel movement, the two sides agreed to intensify technical and financial support in sustainable infrastructure, digital innovation, logistics and people mobility such as road, rail, air, sea and digital linkages within ASEAN.
The South Korean president advocated a so-called New Southern Policy since his inauguration in May 2017 as part of efforts to raise the country's strategic partnership with ASEAN to a higher level.
ASEAN is South Korea's second-biggest trading partner, with trade between the two sides reaching about 160 billion U.S. dollars in 2018. South Korea is the fifth-largest trading partner for the ASEAN.
Meanwhile, South Korea and ASEAN acknowledged that peace and stability in Southeast Asia is linked with that of Northeast Asia including the Korean Peninsula, agreeing to strengthen cooperation for peace and stability in the region.
The two sides agreed to enhance security cooperation to address traditional and non-traditional security challenges such as transnational crime, terrorism and violent extremism, while strengthening cybersecurity cooperation.
In the co-chairs' statement, the two sides hailed the positive development on the Korean Peninsula, brought about by inter-Korean summits between Moon and Kim Jong Un, top leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), and summits between Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump.
Welcoming the resumed DPRK-U.S. working-level talks in Stockholm in early October, South Korea and ASEAN expressed hope that Pyongyang and Washington would hold the next round of negotiations soon.
The two sides reiterated the importance of international efforts to achieve the complete denuclearization of and the lasting peace settlement on the peninsula, underscoring the ASEAN-led regional security platforms such as the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) in promoting a conducive atmosphere to peaceful dialogue among the parties concerned.