2017-12-07 19:20
Korea to bolster economic ties with Eurasia
By Yoon Ja-young

A special committee to bolster economic cooperation with Eurasian countries was established Thursday, as part of the Moon Jae-in administration’s initiative to find new growth engines and secure peace on the Korean Peninsula.

It will prepare a roadmap for economic cooperation with the countries by April next year, based on the “New Northern Policy” of President Moon.

The Presidential Committee on Northern Economic Cooperation held its first meeting with Chairman Song Young-gil and advisers as well as related ministries participating.

“Economic cooperation with Eurasian countries will help ease tension in Northeast Asia and lead to joint prosperity,” Song said. The countries Korea seeks partnership with include Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Belarus, Ukraine and Mongolia among others, as well as the three provinces of northeastern China.

“President Moon has a strong vision for northern economic cooperation, and he agreed with Russian President Vladimir Putin on diverse programs,” Song said.

“With the Korea-China summit scheduled soon, we expect the New Northern Policy to cooperate with China’s One Belt, One Road, leading to joint prosperity.”

With abundant natural resources and a large population, the region has been getting the spotlight for its huge growth potential. Countries there have been accelerating regional integration while opening their markets, as seen in the launch of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), Russia’s New East Asia Policy, and China’s One Belt, One Road.

Korea started advancing to the north by forming diplomatic ties with the former Soviet Union in 1990 and with China in 1992. While trade and investment with China have increased explosively since then, economic cooperation with Eurasian countries including Russia has fallen short of expectations.

The committee, which will be the nation’s control tower in northern economic policies, will set up high-level channels with partner countries, including signing an MOU with the Development of the Russian Far East.

The committee will also lead the “nine-bridge strategy,” which President Moon suggested at the Eastern Economic Forum in Russia in September. He suggested Korea-Russia cooperation in nine sectors: shipbuilding, arctic shipping, gas, railways, electricity, jobs, agriculture, fisheries and harbors. The committee will prepare joint project plans with its Russian counterpart, the Development of the Russian Far East.

The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy announced at the meeting that it will push for the Northeast Asia Super Grid project, which will link electric power lines so that Korea, China and Japan can use the abundant energy of Russia and Mongolia.

In shipbuilding, Korea plans to help Russia modernize its Zvezda Shipyard.

It will also seek joint projects with China, Mongolia and Russia using the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. With the Central Asian countries and Mongolia, Korea will expand cooperation to manufacturing and ICT on top of supporting sectors Korean businesses are interested in, which include petrochemicals and road construction.

With nations of western Eurasia such as Russia, Ukraine and Belarus, the focus of cooperation will be on cutting-edge technologies and setting up a joint startup ecosystem.

With the EAEU, Seoul will prepare to start negotiation for free trade agreement (FTA), diversifying trade market.