Vietnam and the Republic of Korea have agreed to conclude the negotiations on a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) by the end of this year.
The agreement was reached at a meeting in Seoul on October 2 between Prime Minister of the Republic of Korea (RoK) Chung Hong-Won and Vietnam’s Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong, who is on a four-day visit to the RoK.
The host and guest believed that an FTA between the RoK and Vietnam will help the two sides meet their target to increase the two-way trade to US$70 billion by 2020.
Last year, the RoK ranked third among Vietnam’s largest trade partners with two-way trade amounting to $27.5 billion, four times higher than the 2007 level.
Party leader Trong said Vietnam welcomes RoK investors and would create the best conditions possible for them to do business in Vietnam.
As of June this year, with 3,687 projects worth US$31.2 billion invested in Vietnam, the RoK ranked first in terms of the number of projects and second in terms of registered capital among foreign investors in Vietnam.
At the meeting, the two leaders acknowledged that the relations between Vietnam and the RoK have been continuously developing since they set up diplomatic ties in 1992, especially after the bilateral ties were upgraded to a strategic cooperative partnership in 2009.
In respect of official development assistance (ODA), the RoK is the second largest donor to Vietnam, after Japan, with a committed amount of $1.2 billion for the 2012-2015 period.
PM Chung Hong-Won said the RoK would prioritize Vietnam in terms of ODA provision, especially in the areas of infrastructure, energy, science, technology, education, training, and human resources.
Meanwhile, Party General Secretary Trong affirmed that Vietnam welcomed RoK businesses and would create the best conditions possible for RoK investors to operate in Vietnam.
The same day saw the two sides issue a Joint Statement, in which the leaders agreed to promote trade and investment by, inter alia, concluding the negotiation of ROK-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement within this year.
They pledged to further expand and facilitate the implementation of on-going bilateral cooperation in labor, industry, agriculture, finance, and construction.
They also emphasized the importance of maintaining peace, stability, and ensuring maritime security and safety, and freedom of navigation, and recognized the need for parties concerned to resolve disputes through peaceful measures in line with international law.