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South Korea Perspective

ASEANAFFAIRS presents exclusive
interviews with top officials from the    
Republic of Korea, Han Tae-Kyu,
Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to
Thailand, and Cha Young-cheol,
Senior Coordinator for South Asian
and Oceania Affairs, Bureau of
the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
and Trade (MOFAT) Republic
of Korea, who share their insights
into the growing ties
between ROK and Asean, its
third biggest destination for investment 


• Han Tae-Kyu Ambassador of the Republic
of Korea to Thailand

Let there be a better business climate in Thailand

H.E. Han Tae-Kyu, Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to the Kingdom of Thailand, noting that the two countries are celebrating their 50th year of relationship this year, sees two-way trade to exceed $10 billion in 2008.

Q: What should Thailand do to be able to draw more Korean investment?

A: An increasing number of Korean investors are coming to Thailand, and the total investment of Korea to Thailand amounts to over $1 billion up until now. For more investment from Korea in the future, it is necessary to reduce an uncertain business climate in Thailand. In this regard, I think Thailand should give attention to following three factors to improve business environment for foreign investors: (1) political stability, (2) consistency of government policy and (3) non-discrimination between domestic and foreign investors.

Q: Please share your view on the current Korean-Thai relations, trade, investment etc.

A: Korea and Thailand are celebrating the 50th  anniversary of official relationship this year. Our relations have enhanced to the mutually beneficial partnership. We are working closely together in the process of East Asian Cooperation, United Nations and other international forums 

Trade and investment are growing to our mutual satisfaction and tourism is also flourishing. Korean community in Thailand and Thai community in Korea are steadily growing and become more active these days. Our two peoples are more and more interested in the other’s culture and tradition which promotes better understanding of each other. I am confident that our partnership will contribute not only to the well-being of our two peoples but also to the prosperity and peace of our region and the world.

Q: Republic of Korea has been a key trade partner with almost all member countries of Asean. Where does Thailand stand in terms of two-way trade with Korea?

A: The trade volume between two countries reached $8.3 billion last year, making Korea Thailand’s 9th largest trading partner. Thailand’s primary exports to Korea are electronic parts and rubber, while Korea mainly exports petro-chemical products and LCDs to Thailand. This year we expect over $10 billion of the trade volume for the first time. (Table below shows the trend of trade between two countries over the last 4 years. )

Q: It has been almost half a year since Korea and Thailand wrapped up their trade negotiations. How has been the trade growing since then?

A: Thailand and Korea concluded a free trade agreement (FTA) under Asean-Korea FTA framework last year but the agreement is not yet in force. Following the signing of the agreement, the agreement may enter into force during next year.

Q: How does cooperation between Korea and Asean help develop the so-called CLMV, or the new members of Asean namely, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam?

A: Cooperation between Korea and Asean allows Korea to give assistance and support in priority areas of Asean including healthcare, education, development of rural agricultural areas, information & communication, and industrial energy etc to narrow the developmental gap between CLMV and other Asean nations and to strengthen the foundation of Asean for maintaining economic growth.

Q: Korea and Asean have agreed since 2004 to work towards narrowing the development gap between the two sides. Please comment on the progress made so far.

A: The Korean government has provided over $700 million in Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) to Asean to assist the economic and social development of its member countries.

And, in particular, since endorsing the Initiative for Asean Integration (IAI) operation plan at the Asean Summit in November 2002, Korea has contributed $5 million to the IAI plan during 2003-2007 which was carried out primarily in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam in areas such as cultivating trade ability, building e-government, information and communication, and railway connection to relieve the developmental gap within the Asean region and accelerate the integration of Asean. We think that our joint efforts to bridge the developmental gap have been successful.

Q: How can Korea contribute to Asean’s on going integration drive? Why should it do so?

A: Korea intends to provide an additional $5 million in grants to implement Asean Integration (IAI) projects during 2008-2012 that aim to relieve the developmental gap within the Asean region and to accelerate the integration of Asean. Korea believes that it is important to narrow the developmental gap in Asean in order to stabilize the Asean community and economy. Having a stable Asean Community is important to Korea, as it will be a foundation for the establishment of an East Asian Community, which has been a goal of Korea                                   

Trade between ROK and Asean (Year 2004 to 2007)* 
                                                                                           (Unit: Million US$)

 *Source: Ministry of Commerce of Thailand 


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