Posted November. 30, 2004 22:20,
President Roh Moo-hyun, who is visiting Laos, had a summit with the 10 leaders of ASEAN yesterday and agreed to begin Korea-ASEAN FTA negotiations early next year and complete it by the end of 2006.
Consequently, the FTA will become effective in 2007, but substantial trade liberalization is expected to be realized around 2009 when tariffs on 80 percent of all goods will be repealed.
In the conference held at the International Trade Exhibition & Convention Center in Vientiane, President Roh and the ASEAN leaders agreed to apply special treatment and set different tariff removal deadlines on the four new ASEAN members including Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam, who are underdeveloped.
Before the event, China concluded an FTA with ASEAN on November 29 to remove tariffs gradually on most traded goods until 2010. Like Korea, Japan will begin FTA negotiations with ASEAN next year.
Meanwhile, celebrating the 15th anniversary of the establishment of a dialogue relationship between Korea and ASEAN, President Roh and the leaders of ASEAN adopted a Joint Declaration and Action Strategy on Comprehensive Co-operation Partnership between Korea and ASEAN, which has 34 clauses including political and security cooperation.
The joint declaration includes: support for efforts to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula through peaceful means; cooperation against the proliferation of WMD and its transportation system; efforts to solve cross-border crimes including terrorism, drugs, and abduction; and joint feasibility study on East Asian cooperative.
Answering the ASEAN leaders request, President Roh decided to join the Treaty of Amity and Commerce (TAC) in Southeast Asia, which includes non-intervention in domestic affairs among the members, respect for territory, and non-aggression.
President Roh left Laos on a special flight yesterday afternoon and will arrive in London, Britain this morning (Korean time).
Meanwhile, Britains PA news reported that British Prime Minister Tony Blair said on November 29, The North Korean nuclear issue is an evident yet very significant one. I plan to discuss this issue with President Roh who will be visiting Britain as a national guest.