|Presidential Economic Adviser Joo Hyung-chul, front row center, and Kim Tae-young, front row fifth from left, chairman of the Korea Federation of Banks, raise their fists with chief executives of financial companies ahead of their meeting in Seoul, Tuesday, to discuss expansion in Southeast Asia. Courtesy of Korea Federation of Banks|
By Park Hyong-ki
The government will set up a Korea-ASEAN finance support center either in Bangkok, Thailand, or Jakarta, Indonesia, next year, said Joo Hyung-chul, President Moon Jae-in's economic adviser.
In a meeting with chief executives of local financial companies, including commercial and policy banks, at the Korea Federation of Banks in Seoul, Tuesday, Joo said the administration will start making budget plans for the center in June.
It will decide the center's location by October after studying its prospects with think tanks such as the Korea Institute for International Economic Policy, he said.
This is in line with efforts to strengthen ties with Southeast Asian countries. Following trips to Malaysia and Cambodia last March, President Moon unveiled a vision to boost ties not only with North Korea but also Southeast Asian economies.
"We began considering the center after listening to the needs from businesses and financial companies," Joo said.
"We will pursue it by working with related ministries, research centers and financial companies. We will start making decisions regarding the matter in July."
Bangkok and Jakarta are attractive for the ASEAN support center.
Korea already has an ASEAN representative office in Jakarta. This would help reduce costs for the government in setting up the ASEAN finance center as it could expand the representative office, according to the Korea Federation of Banks.
Bangkok is home to the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific with which Korea can closely collaborate in building a new ecosystem in Southeast Asia, the federation said.
"But the downside is there are barely any Korea financial companies operating in Thailand," an industry source said. "This means we have to build the ecosystem from scratch."
There are 164 branches and offices of Korean financial companies in Southeast Asian markets, including three in Thailand, according to the federation.
Joo replaced Kim Hyun-chul early this year after he stepped down for making remarks about those in their 50s and 60s, telling them to work in Southeast Asia instead of posting negative comments online.