PM and Moon to witness signing of 4 MoUs in Seoul
Published on: Monday, November 25, 2019
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busan: Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and South Korean President Moon Jae-in will witness the signing of four Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) – in information and communications technology, digital government, healthcare & medical science and water & sewerage management – in Seoul this week.

Dr Mahathir and spouse Tun Dr. Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali will undertake an official visit to Seoul from Nov 27 to 28 after attending the Asean-South Korea Commemorative Summit 2019 in Busan.

This will be his first official visit to South Korea after becoming the seventh Prime Minister of Malaysia in May 2018.

During the visit, he will lead the Malaysian delegation to a bilateral meeting with President Moon. The meeting is a follow-up to both leaders’ discussion in Kuala Lumpur during Moon’s state visit to Malaysia from March 12-14, 2019.

Issues to be discussed include cooperation in trade and investment, development of the halal industry, cooperation in healthcare and medical science, information and communications technology, digital government, transportation, defence as well as collaboration in tourism and culture, Malaysian Ambassador to South Korea Datuk Mohd Ashri Muda told media here.

Both sides will also discuss efforts to further elevate the bilateral relations between the two countries into a strategic partnership, as Malaysia and South Korea move towards the 60th anniversary of the establishment of their diplomatic relations in 2020.

At the same time, both leaders will also discuss regional and international issues of mutual interest. 

Yonhap News Agency reported that South Korea is exploring the possibility of forging individual free trade deals with more Asean member states and pushing to clinch free trade deals with Malaysia and the Philippines by the end of the year.

On top of attending official programmes, the Prime Minister is also scheduled to participate in a roundtable business meeting with South Korean captains of industry and receive a courtesy call from the president and CEO of Daewoo Engineering and Construction Co. Ltd.

Dr Mahathir will also take the opportunity to meet with the Malaysian diaspora in Seoul.

He will be accompanied on the visit by Minister of Foreign Affairs Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah; Minister of International Trade and Industry Datuk Ignatius Darell Leiking; Minister of Communications and Multimedia Gobind Singh Deo; Minister of Health Datuk Seri Dr. Dzulkefly Ahmad; and Minister of Water, Land and Natural Resources Datuk Dr. Xavier Jayakumar Arulanandam.

Meanwhile, Mohd Ashri has called on Malaysians to seize the moment and ride on the opportunity that South Korea’s New Southern Policy (NSP) poses to attract investments and explore advanced, high technology industries.

Speaking to reporters here, Mohd Ashri said under the NSP, South Korea wants to position its economic relations with Asean on par with the four major powers – the United States, China, Japan and Russia.

Unveiled by South Korean President Moon Jae-in in November 2017, the NSP envisions more cooperation between South Korea and Asean, with a trade value target of US$200 billion by 2020.

The country has sought stronger economic ties with Asean to reduce its heavy reliance on large markets and to foster new growth drivers – resulting in an almost 8.0 per cent increase in trade to US$160 billion in 2018.

This propelled the region as South Korea’s second-largest trading partner.

Similarly, Mohd Ashri said South Korea’s involvement in the Look East Policy (LEP) since 1982 had resulted in an increase in investments from South Korea into Malaysia.

“Under the renewed Look East Policy 2.0 (LEP 2.0), Malaysia looks forward to tapping into South Korea’s strengths in advanced technology and innovation that include new industries, artificial intelligence, digital economy, robotics as well as smart manufacturing and aerospace industry,” he said.

In 2018, bilateral trade between Malaysia and South Korea increased by 7.2 per cent to US$17.98 billion (RM72.60 billion). 

South Korea was Malaysia’s eighth largest trading partner globally and 13th largest Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) source in 2018.

Malaysia, on the other hand, was the country’s 14th largest trading partner for the same year. 

Malaysia is also seeing a steady increase in tourists from South Korea.

Last year, Malaysia attracted 616,783 tourists from South Korea, an increase of 27.3 per cent from 2017.

From January until July 2019, a total of 393,177 tourists from South Korea visited Malaysia, up 10.3 per cent over the same corresponding period in 2018. – Bernama


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