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South Korea’s Moon Jae-in welcomes regional leaders for ASEAN summit


South Korea’s Moon Jae-in welcomes regional leaders for ASEAN summit

south korea asean summit
Photo: Reuters

Leaders from ASEAN states will convene in Busan, South Korea, today for the start of a two-day commemorative summit.

The gathering comes as South Korean President Moon Jae-in continues to carry out his New Southern Policy of economic outreach to ASEAN states through bilateral and multilateral meetings.

Despite a detente between North and South Korea since June, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un rejected an invitation to the summit.

Kim’s rejection underscores the shortcomings of Moon’s efforts to incorporate his northern counterparts in any form of multilateral negotiations since June. Furthermore, it highlights the unlikeliness of Kim participating in trade talks with any ASEAN members.

Even if Kim does decide to attend the two-day summit, it is highly unlikely he will agree to any of the trade terms or multilateral agreements presented. Not one ASEAN state falls in the top ten for trade with North Korea.

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While President Moon will sign bilateral economic agreements with leaders of the Philippines, Brunei and Singapore, in addition to hosting multilateral trade and investment meetings, expect no headway to be made in incorporating the North Korea in any form of ASEAN trade or economic cooperation.

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