KUALA LUMPUR, The leaders of South Korea and Malaysia agreed Wednesday to launch negotiations for a bilateral free trade agreement and seek their conclusion before the year's end.
On the second day of his visit to Kuala Lumpur, President Moon Jae-in held a summit with Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad to discuss ways to expand the countries' cooperation and exchanges.
"The two leaders agreed to push for a South Korea-Malaysia FTA to create an institutional framework that will help further expand the countries' trade and investment, and to try to declare the conclusion of negotiations at the special South Korea-Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit at the end of the year by moving forward their negotiations with speed," Moon's presidential office Cheong Wa Dae said
The summit between South Korea and the 10-member ASEAN is expected to be held in November, marking the 30th anniversary of the establishment of their dialogue relations.
South Korea and Malaysia conducted a joint feasibility study for a bilateral FTA in 2011-2012, but their discussions have since stood still.
The FTA, if signed, will be in addition to the South Korea-ASEAN FTA that went into effect in June 2007.
Malaysia and nine other member countries of ASEAN make up South Korea's second-largest trading partner. Bilateral trade between South Korea and Malaysia is also on a steady increase, spiking 14.9 percent to US$19.2 billion last year from $16.7 billion the year before, according to Cheong Wa Dae.
Moon and Mahathir also called for efforts to develop new joint business opportunities, such as combining the growing popularity of South Korean pop culture, known as "hallyu," or Korean wave, with Malaysia's halal industry.
Shortly after his arrival here Tuesday on a three-day state visit, the South Korean president attended a special business fair introducing some 150 halal-certified hallyu products, ranging from food and cosmetics, to various hallyu contents.
"The two leaders agreed to seek joint development of markets in third countries by combining South Korea's globally competitive hallyu contents and the halal industry of Malaysia that sets global standards for halal," Cheong Wa Dae said.
The leaders also pledged joint efforts for the success of the special South Korea-ASEAN summit.
"The two leaders agreed to work together so the special South Korea-ASEAN summit, set to be held in South Korea later this year, will be a chance to look back on the South Korea-ASEAN relations over the past 30 years and provide a new vision for the next 100 years, along with a strategic roadmap to ensure peace and co-prosperity in the region," Cheong Wa Dae said.
Source: Yonhap news Agency