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Nov 03, 2020 / 15:09

South Korea NA speaker picks Vietnam for 1st foreign trip, economic ties on focus

South Korea is one of the most important economic partners of Vietnam.

Vietnam is the first country in Asia that South Korea's National Assembly Speaker Park Byeong-seug has visited in his four-day trip beginning from October 31 since taking office in June, with a focus on economic relations.

 South Korea's Parliamentary Speaker Park Byeong-seug (left) and Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc in Hanoi on November 2. Photo: VGP

At the meetings between Mr. Park Byeong-seug with Secretary General of the Communist Party of Vietnam and State President Nguyen Phu Trong, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, and National Assembly Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan, both sides highlighted economic ties in the bilateral relationship which was upgraded to strategic cooperative partnership in 2009.

They reaffirmed the target to soon raise bilateral trade to US$100 billion from US$68 billion in 2019.

Mr. Park Byeong-seug affirmed that Vietnam is a key partner in South Korea’s New Southern Policy (NSP) that has put heavy emphasis on co-existence with ASEAN as a partner of mutual prosperity.

At present, South Korea is Vietnam’s biggest investor with US$70.38 billion in nearly 9,000 projects, the second biggest donor of official development assistance (ODA), and largest recipient of Vietnamese workers.

Dr. Duong Quang Thong from the University of Economics Ho Chi Minh City attributed the rising inflows of South Korean investment to their acknowledgment and understanding of Vietnam’s business environment, better than those of other countries.

  South Korea's Parliamentary Speaker Park Byeong-seug (left) and Vietnam's National Assembly Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan. Photo: VGP

Another issue discussed during the visit was the relaxation of entry restrictions for South Korean citizens. Mr. Park took note of Vietnam’s economic growth, success in the Covid-19 fight and the huge potential for further bilateral cooperation.

Vietnamese Prime Minister Phuc reportedly said that he would order government agencies to actively consider streamlining entry procedures, ensuring that South Korea will be the first country to benefit from the simplified procedures.

On Monday, Mr. Park visited a Samsung Electronics plant in northern Vietnam and said the South Korean tech giant has become a symbol of the two countries’ economic cooperation.

PM Phuc pledged to consider Mr. Park’s proposal that the two nations upgrade their current strategic cooperative partnership to comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership.

Of the huge two-way trade, Vietnam currently incurs a trade deficit with South Korea. At the meeting with Mr. Park, Mr. Phuc expects more shipments of Vietnamese farm produce and home appliances to the Northeast Asian country and removal of conditions for soft loans and non-refundable loans for Vietnam.

The Vietnamese PM also proposed the entry facilitation of Vietnamese workers, better support to Vietnamese brides and interracial families in South Korea.

In September, South Korea’s Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha visited Vietnam, proposing the creation of an expedited entry system for essential travelers, such as businesspeople, to facilitate their overseas work amid the pandemic.