South Korea will soon open a diplomatic mission dedicated to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Jakarta this year, as Asia’s fourth-largest economy seeks to deepen economic ties with the 10-member regional bloc, Seoul officials said Wednesday.
Vice Foreign minister Kim Sung-han and foreign ministers of Southeast Asian nations pledged to work closely together to further boost the already brisk trade between the two sides at their talks held on the sidelines of a regional security meeting.
“We have completed work to open the diplomatic mission in Jakarta, and preparations are underway for the launch,” a senior Seoul diplomat who attended the meeting said.
The diplomatic mission in Jakarta will coordinate Asean affairs with cooperation from Korean embassies in the region, the diplomat said on the condition of anonymity.
Asean is South Korea’s second-largest trade partner after China, and the second-largest investment destination after the European Union. The region is also an important source of energy and other resources for South Korea, and sits on key maritime routes that the country uses to bring foreign resources home.
Two-way trade between South Korea and Asean stood at $125 billion last year, and the two sides have already laid out a goal to increase bilateral trade to $150 billion by 2015.
A free trade agreement between South Korea and Asean – comprising Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam – took effect in 2007.