Fri, Nov 10, 2017 - Page 6 News List

Moon unveils new focus on ASEAN

JOINT VENTURE:Indonesia has emerged as an important market for South Korean defense equipment and the nations are cooperating on building a fighter jet, the KF-X

Reuters, JAKARTA

South Korean first lady Kim Jung-sook, center rear, poses for a photograph with a group of Indonesian children practicing taekwondo on a visit to the Al Ashriyyah Nurul Iman Islamic Boarding School in Bogor, Indonesia, yesterday.

Photo: EPA-EFE

South Korean President Moon Jae-in yesterday unveiled a new policy aimed at deepening ties with Southeast Asia, as the North Asian economic powerhouse seeks to curb its reliance on traditional trading partners such as China and the US.

Moon made Indonesia, Southeast Asia’s biggest economy, his first state visit to the region and was accompanied by a delegation of about 200 business leaders.

The “New Southern Policy” aims to better connect South Korea to ASEAN and expand the economic influence of Asia’s fourth-largest economy in the region, home to over half a billion people.

“[South] Korean diplomacy in Asia has been more toward Japan, China and Russia, but I see that it should expand to new horizons and Indonesia has good prospects,” Moon said in opening remarks at a business forum.

South Korea’s presidential Blue House has said the policy would mirror Moon’s “New Northern Policy” aimed at expanding cooperation between China, Japan, Russia and Mongolia.

Moon announced that in September while at the East Economic Forum in Russia.

Indonesia and South Korea signed a memorandum of understanding to develop a light rail system, Indonesian Minister of Industry Airlangga Hartarto said.

South Korea’s Yonhap news agency said the project in Jakarta was part of a series of memorandums worth up to US$1.9 billion due to be signed.

A year-long diplomatic standoff between Seoul and Beijing over the deployment of a US anti-missile system has exposed the dependence of South Korean companies on Chinese customers and likely exacerbated Seoul’s urgency to diversify ties.

During a joint news conference with US President Donald Trump on Tuesday, Moon said he was aiming for a more “balanced diplomacy,” which would include Russia, ASEAN nations and members of the EU.

Moon was due to meet Indonesian President Joko Widodo at a state palace in Bogor, south of Jakarta, later yesterday for talks and then a state dinner.

The two were due to discuss infrastructure, trade and also tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

Indonesia has traditionally had good relations with North Korea, and maintains diplomatic ties and is one of a small number of nations with an embassy in Pyongyang.

A number of South Korean companies already have or are planning big investments in Indonesia.

Steel company POSCO has a multibillion-dollar joint venture with Indonesia’s Krakatau Steel, Hyundai Motor is setting up a car factory and Samsung Electronics Co assembles smartphones in the nation.

Indonesia is also emerging as an important market for South Korean defense equipment and the nations are cooperating on a venture to jointly build a fighter plane, dubbed the KF-X.

Indonesia’s trade with South Korea was worth about US$10 billion in the first nine months of this year, while South Korean foreign direct investment rose about a quarter to US$1.37 billion over the same period.

South Koreans make up one of the largest expatriate groups in Indonesia and parts of Jakarta have numerous Korean restaurants and bars.

As well as corporate muscle, South Korea’s soft power has also grown in Indonesia alongside other nations in Southeast Asia.

South Korean K-Pop is hugely popular among Indonesians, with long-established fan clubs and bands, such as BTS, touring the Southeast Asian nation.

Indonesian Twitter accounts dedicated to South Korean pop idols have about 1 million followers.

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