Bringing together over 350 representatives of ministries, sectors, localities business associations and enterprises from the six involved countries, the forum, which was held in both in-person and video conference formats, focused on a series of key topics, including the short- and long-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, development trends, challenges and opportunities facing businesses, particularly small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and the governments’ policies to support firms in post-pandemic recovery.
Vietnamese Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Le Hoai Trung speaks at the 8th Mekong – RoK Business Forum (Photo: VNA)
In his remarks at the event, Trung said since its establishment in 2011, the Mekong – RoK cooperation mechanism has played a significant role in promoting the multifaceted relationships among Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam and the RoK.
Trade between the Mekong region and the RoK leaped by 250 percent in nine years to reach 88 billion USD in 2019, while their two-way foreign direct investment also hit nearly 60 billion USD last year.
Despite the pandemic, the sides have worked to sustain their trade at the level equivalent to that of 2019 and remained each other’s main trade partner, the diplomat said, adding that at two recent summits, Mekong and RoK leaders encouraged the private sector, particularly SMEs and newly established firms, to seek business and investment opportunities in the region for deeper collaboration across fields.
The deputy minister said he believed the forum will make important contributions to the cooperation between the two sides.
For his part, Korean Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Lee Tae-ho recalled that at the 37th ASEAN Summit and Related Summits, leaders affirmed their determination to enhance collaboration to overcome difficulties and recover their economies.
They agreed to elevate the Mekong – RoK cooperation to a strategic partnership for improved join work in prioritised areas, boosted resilience capacity of regional supply chains and favourable conditions for business operations, he said.
The official stated the Korean Government will push for stronger ties with the Mekong nations and pledged to contribute 10 billion USD to the fund for cooperation and COVID-19 prevention and control.
He said further collaboration in water management and response to climate change and natural disasters in the Mekong region are necessary.
Right after the forum, a dialogue took place to connect Korean enterprises with the Vietnamese provinces of Bac Giang, Bac Kan, Bac Ninh, Cao Bang, Tuyen Quang, and Yen Bai./.