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2017-11-12 16:40
Korea’s diplomacy has traditionally prioritized the four major powers ― the United States, Japan, China and Russia. President Moon Jae-in has announced a new diplomatic roadmap of putting more focus on Southeast Asian nations in what he calls his “New Southern Policy.”

The President unveiled the policy during his state visit to Indonesia on Nov. 9 at the Korea-Indonesia Business Forum, saying he hoped to “elevate Korea’s ties with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to the level of our relations with the four major powers.”

Moon’s push to forge stronger ties with ASEAN is timely in diversifying our diplomacy. It is necessary to reduce our excessive dependence on certain countries for trade and tourism.

One of the key objectives of the policy is to increase the trade volume between Korea and ASEAN to $200 billion by 2020, which is equal to our trade volume with China.

The new focus on ASEAN comes a few weeks after Moon announced his “New Northern Policy” in Russia in September, with the aim to build stronger economic and cultural ties with countries in the Far East and Northeast Asia. Both policies should be pursued vigorously to reduce our dependence on the U.S. and China for trade and enter new markets in economies that have much growth potential.

With the spread of hallyu, the people of ASEAN have been taking more interest in Korea, but Koreans still do not know much about these countries and our companies have not been active in entering the ASEAN market. This underlines the need for more active cultural and economic exchanges.

For the “New Southern Policy” to succeed, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs needs to foster more professionals with expertise in the languages and the business environment of ASEAN. 

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