In a recent interview granted to Vietnam News Agency correspondents in Seoul, Dr. Lee Jaehyon, director of the Center for ASEAN and Oceania Studies at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies, said that as the Korean economy is so much dependent on trade, a regional multilateral free trade agreement is in principle good for Korea and its economy.

Illustrative image (Photo: VNA)

“On top of that RCEP has long been on agenda of regional economic cooperation. It is better for Korea to conclude it sooner than later. A further delay might have reduced the momentum for the free trade agreement,” he said.

According to the expert, as for the RoK, RCEP is supposed to be one of the achievements of the New Southern Policy since it could further remove the trade barrier between ASEAN countries and the RoK.

As COVID-19 puts serious restraints on people and good movement and incurs protectionist tendencies by countries, the agreement is helpful to fight against the negative symptoms brought by the Covid-19.

Regarding Vietnam’s efforts towards the conclusion of the RCEP negotiation, Lee said as ASEAN Chair in 2020, Vietnam has a heavy burden of getting all the signing done this year (hopefully with India’s joining).

“It will not be an easy task since regional countries are so much pre-occupied with Covid-19. But, if Vietnam persuades regional countries strongly with an argument that RCEP is an effective instrument to fight against the protectionist movements by some countries which put further constraints on regional economies on top of the negative impacts of the pandemic,” he stated.

He went on to say that nobody can tell if countries will finish signing the agreement this year or not. Obviously, things do not bode well due to COVID-19 – the protectionist impulses of the regional countries.

Emphasising that the utility of RCEP is clearer than ever, he said he wishes the ratification is all done by countries./.

CPV/VNA