Vietnam is South Korea’s largest trade partner in Southeast Asia.
Seoul has affirmed that Vietnam is central to South Korea’s New Southern Policy (NSP) that is aimed to elevate its ties with ASEAN and India to the level of Korea’s traditional four major diplomatic partners (the US, Japan, China, and Russia).
|Vietnam’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Bui Thanh Son (left) and South Korea’s Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong. Photo: Baoquocte|
South Korea’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Chung Eui-yong told Vietnamese Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son at a teleconference held on April 28.
At talks, the two top diplomats have stressed the importance to all-sided relations. They agreed to boost exchanges between high-ranking officials via virtual meetings and phone talks.
They also discussed measures to make the trade target of US$100 billion by 2023 attainable and to have more selective investment inflows from South Korea.
The two top diplomats talked about the strategic cooperative partnership with the celebrations of the 30th anniversary of diplomatic ties next year.
They also sought ways to facilitate trips by essential workers including business people.
In South Korea NSP, Vietnam is geographically closer to Korea than India, and it has a robust Korean community, with more than 7,000 Korean companies and 200,000 Korean expatriates. Moreover, Vietnam has many favorable conditions for manufacturing industries, including qualified and cheap labor, good infrastructure, and well-developed industrial zones, Françoise Nicolas said in “The Economic Pillar of Korea’s New Southern Policy.”
In 1989, South Korea and ASEAN set up dialogue relations. Since then, the two-way trade has rocketed almost 20-fold. In the recent years, South Korea-ASEAN trade is thus heavily skewed towards Vietnam. In 2019, Vietnam became South Korea’s 4th largest trade partner just behind China, US, and Japan.
By country, South Korea’s trade with Vietnam grew at the most rapid pace. In 2018, Vietnam accounted for 42.7% of Korea-ASEAN trade.
Among these countries, Vietnam receives the lion’s share, with some 44 percent on average of Korean ODA in ASEAN over the last decade (2010-2018).