Economic cooperation between Vietnam and South Korea will see future robust development, Korean Minister of Industry, Commerce and Energy, Kim Young-Ju, told VIR's Dong Hoa during his recent four-day visit to Vietnam.
Kim Young-Ju How would you assess relations in investment and trade between Vietnam and South Korea over the past 15 years?
Vietnam and South Korean cooperation in investment and trade since 1992 has seen outstanding developments which in some cases could have taken decades to achieve.
Bilateral trade turnover rose to $4.9 billion in 2006 from nearly $500 million in 1992, a 10-fold jump. South Korea now stands in sixth place amongst Vietnam’s biggest trade partners. As of May 2007, total investment was $8.7 billion, making us the second largest investor in the country. Both countries have the right conditions for favourable bilateral cooperation. Vietnam is rich in natural resources and qualified labour forces, while South Korea possesses advanced technologies in IT and heavy industry, as well as abundant capital sources and the experience gained during the recovery of its domestic industries. In the natural resource sector alone, with its advantages in technology, capital and experience, South Korea wants to work with Vietnam to explore and exploit the country’s fullest potential. In recent times, both countries have worked to boost cooperation in the production of electronics, generators, automobile tires and spare parts.
What are your hopes for future bilateral ties? What should be done to maintain and further support cooperation?
Vietnam is opening the doors to its market after joining the WTO in January and with the South Korea-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement (FTA) in effect as of June 1, it is considered a very attractive investment destination for Korean businesses.
However, the two governments need to pay greater attention to the difficulties facing Korean enterprises in the country. Information networks to assist Korean firms in accessing Vietnam’s market should be strengthened, infrastructure including roads, bridges and ports should be improved to minimise transportation costs and procedures related to licensing should be better organised. In addition to economic ties, exchanges in the fields of culture, education and tourism must also be strengthened for a closer relationship between the two countries and people.
What will South Korea’s policies concerning economic relations with Vietnam look like in the future?
Vietnam is fast becoming one of the most dynamic economies in Southeast Asia. When Vietnam acceded to the WTO in January, it attracted a great deal of attention as the leader of the Potential Nations Group, VISTA (Vietnam, Indonesia, South Africa, Turkey and Argentina), all nations with high growth rates. Because we are aware of Vietnam’s potential, South Korea has made serious efforts to bolster economic cooperation. Our economic delegation comprising both government officials and businesspeople aimed at furthering the above mentioned endeavours.
As for our government, in addition to the new South Korea-ASEAN FTA, we are in talks with the Vietnamese Government on the investment environment and trade.
For our businesses, South Korea is making a concerted effort to assist firms in policy so they can further enter the Vietnamese market.