Southeast Asian nations and South Korea on Aug. 24 signed an agreement to trade goods under a pact which will include 100 products made at a controversial complex in North Korea.
South Korean Trade Minister Kim Hyun Chong hailed the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) decision to recognize the products from the South Korean-built Kaesong industrial complex located in North Korea. "We feel this is an important step in integrating North Korea into the international community," he said.
Speaking after a meeting with ASEAN economic ministers to discuss their joint free trade agreement (FTA), Kim said it was an "endeavor on our part to introduce some market principles to North Korea." Seoul hopes to make the Kaesong industrial park a development model that combines South Korea's capital and North Korea's cheap labor.
Currently only 15 South Korean firms operate in North Korea but South Korean officials hope that low costs will draw some 3,000 factories by 2024.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2006