PH, Korea sign pacts on tourism, trade

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    THE Philippines and South Korea signed yesterday several agreements aimed at expanding the ties between the two countries.

    President Duterte and Korean President Moon Jae-in witnessed the signing of agreements on social security, and the implementation program of the memorandum of understanding (MOU) on tourism cooperation, and the exchange of an accord on a proposed free trade agreement between the two countries.

    An MOU on fisheries and education was signed ahead of the event.

    The signing was done after the meeting between Duterte and Moon that was held in Busan at the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations-Republic of Korea (ASEAN-ROK) Commemorative Summit.

    Duterte, during the meeting with Moon, stressed the importance of finding a common cause with South Korea to promote peace and stability in the region.

    He talked of the bond between Manila and Seoul, which he said was strengthened during the Korean war, and growing ties in the fields of trade and investment, agriculture, science and technology, infrastructure development, and defense, among others.

    He invited Moon to visit the Philippines next year and thanked South Korea for donating $100,000 to earthquake victims in Mindanao.

    Moon talked about strengthening the ties between the two countries as he said the Philippines is the “future of ASEAN” due to its continuing economic growth.

    He also said that it is time to elevate of the ties between Manila and Seoul to a strategic partnership to pave the way for greater cooperation that would lead to prosperity for the two countries.

    Moon said Manila is among the first countries that established diplomatic ties with Korea 70 years ago. He thanked the Filipinos for standing by the Koreans during the Korean war.

    The President flew to Busan on Sunday to attend the 2019 ASEAN-ROK Commemorative Summit, which has the theme, “Partnership for Peace, Prosperity for People,” from November 25 to 26.

    He arrived around 2 a.m. of Monday and is expected to return to the Philippines tonight.

    The 2019 ASEAN-ROK Commemorative Summit proper will be held today, including the ASEAN -ROK Summit leaders meetings, Start-Up Summit, and Innovation Showcase 2019.

    The leaders are expected to explore ways to further enhance relations, trade and investment, innovation and smart city development, sustainable development, and countering transboundary challenges, biodiversity and people-to-people exchanges through cultural and academic exchanges and human resource development during the summit meetings.

    Regional security issues would also be discussed.

    Two documents are expected to come out of the summit and side events.

    Minister Yangwoo Park of the Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism, and Communications Secretary Martin Andanar reaffirmed the two countries’ commitment to operationalize the 2018 MOU that seeks to enhance capabilities in the field of broadcasting and to undertake joint or individual activities and programs that would help strengthen cooperation.

    The accord on the proposed free trade agreement (FTA) aims to expedite discussions on slashing the 30 percent import tariffs on certain agricultural products from the Philippines like bananas. The target is to have the FTA cooperation signed by next year.

    The five-year Implementation Program on Tourism Cooperation aims to introduce programs that will bolster two-way tourism promotion.

    The Department of Tourism said South Korea is the biggest source of foreign visitors in the country with 1.4 million arrivals recorded from January to September, or a 20.97 percent growth from the same period last year.