Yoon says S. Korea, Vietnam will strengthen cooperation on N. Korea, trade

June 23, 2023

President Yoon Suk Yeol said Friday that South Korea and Vietnam will strengthen cooperation against North Korea’s nuclear threat while expanding economic ties to increase bilateral trade.

Yoon, who is on a three-day state visit to Vietnam, made the remark after a summit with Vietnamese President Vo Van Thuong at the presidential palace in Hanoi, saying he also agreed to provide the Southeast Asian nation with US$4 billion in soft loans by 2030 as part of official development assistance.

“North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs are the most urgent security threat in the region,” Yoon said during a joint press briefing with Thuong. “South Korea and Vietnam will strengthen coordination both at the ASEAN level and bilaterally to draw a united response from the international community.”

ASEAN stands for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which comprises 10 countries, including Vietnam.

Yoon said the two countries will hold annual foreign ministerial talks and expand defense industry cooperation based on the strengthened political confidence between the sides.

South Korea’s Coast Guard and Vietnam’s Ministry of Public Security also signed a memorandum of understanding under which South Korea will help strengthen Vietnam’s maritime security capabilities.

“South Korea and Vietnam have built a close and mutually beneficial cooperative relationship over the past 30 years,” Yoon said. “Last year, we elevated the bilateral relationship to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations. Today, President Thuong and I discussed ways to further strengthen our cooperation in a way that is commensurate with the elevated bilateral relationship and to contribute to freedom, peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region.”

Under the aim of increasing bilateral trade to US$150 billion by 2030, the two sides agreed to establish an Electronic Origin Data Exchange System, which will allow businesses to submit online proof of origin of export and import items to qualify for preferential duties under the two countries’ free trade agreement.

Recognizing the large potential for cooperation on developing Vietnam’s abundant rare earth elements, the two sides also agreed to set up a center exclusively handling critical mineral supply chains, and to look further for areas of cooperation in liquefied natural gas development, hydrogen energy production, smart cities and climate change response.

The summit also led to an agreement to further promote exchanges between the two countries’ peoples by increasing support for Korean language education in Vietnam and expanding scholarships for Vietnamese students in South Korea.

Yoon said South Korea will continue to expand development assistance to Vietnam by raising the cap on aid provided through the Economic Development Cooperation Fund from $1.5 billion in 2016-2023 to $2 billion in 2024-2030.

Under a new deal, South Korea will also provide an additional $2 billion through the Economic Development Promotion Facility by 2030.

“Vietnam is a key cooperation state in implementing our Indo-Pacific Strategy and the Korea-ASEAN Solidarity Initiative for freedom, peace and prosperity,” Yoon said. “We will communicate and cooperate more closely with Vietnam, which is a key partner for the development of South Korea-ASEAN relations and South Korea-Mekong cooperation.”

The two countries signed 17 agreements and documents on the occasion of the summit, including an action plan for the implementation of the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership established last year, an agreement allowing the use of international driver’s licenses in each other’s countries and a memorandum of understanding outlining rules for the issuance of employment permits to Vietnamese workers in South Korea.

Thuong welcomed the agreements and said Vietnam is paying close attention to the situation on the Korean Peninsula.

“We are ready to contribute to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” he said.