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S. Korean, Vietnamese leaders agree to expand trade, economic cooperation

May 19, 2023 - 21:00 By Ji Da-gyum
South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol (R) and Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh pose for a photo during their summit talks in Hiroshima, western Japan, on Friday. (Yonhap)

The South Korean and Vietnamese leaders on Friday committed to expanding bilateral trade and economic cooperation on the sidelines of the Group of Seven summit in the city of Hiroshima, Japan.

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh discussed ways to enhance bilateral relations between the two countries, as well as cooperation between South Korea and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, the South Korean presidential office said Friday.

"President Yoon expressed the intention to work together to achieve the goal of reaching $150 billion in bilateral trade by 2030, citing Vietnam as one of South Korea's top three trading partners," presidential spokesperson Lee Do-woon said in a statement.

Yoon emphasized that the over 8,000 South Korean companies operating in Vietnam are important assets that support the close economic cooperation between the two countries.

Yoon also expressed gratitude to Chinh for directly addressing the challenges faced by South Korean companies operating in Vietnam through hosting dialogues with South Korean companies both last year and the year before.

During the meeting, Yoon requested Vietnam to increase support for South Korean companies operating in Vietnam.

Yoon also highlighted South Korea's interest in expanding development cooperation with Vietnam, including projects related to Official Development Assistance (ODA) and the Economic Development Cooperation Fund.

In response, Chinh expressed his gratitude and reiterated his hope for the expansion of ODA projects and other development support programs funded by South Korea. Chinh specifically mentioned areas such as finance, technology, human resource development, and institutional improvement as key focus areas for cooperation.

Yoon and Chinh also agreed to enhance bilateral cooperation on the diplomatic front. The bilateral relationship has been elevated to a "comprehensive strategic partnership" to mark the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations last year.

"Vietnam aims to foster strategic coordination and cooperation with South Korea while adhering to international norms and regulations," Chinh was quoted by Lee as saying.

Chinh also underscored that Vietnam considers South Korea a highly important partner in its pursuit of foreign policy.

Yoon also took note of the importance of Vietnam for South Korea to improve its ties with ASEAN member states.

In return, Yoon expressed gratitude for Vietnam's support and cooperation regarding the Korea-ASEAN Solidarity Initiative announced by the South Korean government last November, underscoring the importance of continuing close communication and coordination with Vietnam to implement the initiative.