The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)'s 10 member countries and South Korea agreed Tuesday to resist all forms of protectionism and enhance trade for regional prosperity.
The agreement was reached after the two-day ASEAN-ROK Commemorative Summit was held in Busan, the southern port city of South Korea, to celebrate the 30th anniversary of dialogue partnership between the two sides. ROK stands for the Republic of Korea, South Korea's official name.
In a joint vision statement released after the summit, the ASEAN and South Korea agreed to their "commitment to support for the enhancement of trade and investment and the resistance to all forms of protectionism in order to improve regional development and prosperity."
"We are facing new challenges such as trade protectionism, transnational crimes and the Fourth Industrial Revolution," South Korean President Moon Jae-in said during a formal session of the group summit.
Moon offered to overcome the challenges through "cooperation and solidarity" between the two sides, and to build a fair, free "trade community" to prevent the spread of trade protectionism from shrinking trade and investment in the region.
The special summit was co-chaired by Moon and Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha. In the co-chairs' statement, they welcomed the conclusion of text-based negotiations on Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).
They agreed to work together on outstanding issues with a view to signing the agreement in 2020, saying it would create a "modern, comprehensive, high quality and mutually beneficial" RCEP agreement.
Fifteen out of the 16 RCEP participating countries concluded text-based negotiations and all market access issues earlier this month in Bangkok, Thailand with an aim to sign the mega free-trade pact next year.
Initiated in 2012, the RCEP brought together 10 member countries of the ASEAN and their six trade partners in the region, including China, South Korea, Japan, India, Australia and New Zealand.