South Korea and Russia have launched a consultative body to push for joint economic projects in various areas, including energy, shipbuilding, fishery and transportation, to create new growth drivers, a presidential committee here said, on Monday.
Song Young-gil, the head of the Presidential Committee on Northern Economic Cooperation, led a South Korean delegation composed of government officials and business people to Vladivostok to discuss ways to step up economic cooperation with the vast Eurasian country.
The committee was created under President Moon Jae-in’s “New Northern Policy,” which aims to forge close economic cooperation across Russia and Northeast Asia.
The initiative proposes the building of “nine bridges” between the two nations, including natural gas, railroads, seaports, electricity, Arctic shipping routes, shipbuilding, labor, agriculture and fisheries.
Joint projects include the connection of a cross-border inter-Korean railway with the Trans-Siberian Railway, as well as the establishment of a power grid that connects Russia with the Northeast Asian electricity network involving South Korea, China and Japan.
“In addition to the nine bridges, we will expand support for South Korean companies’ inroads to new areas, including healthcare, information and communications technology and environment,” Song said in release. “The Russian Far East is a strategic region that can encourage North Korea’s participation based on trilateral joint projects, including South Korea, China and Russia, which would enhance peace in the Northeast Asian region.”
For the ambitious vision, North Korea’s participation is essential, as projects based on inland infrastructure that connects South Korea and Russia would have to go through the reclusive country.
While Pyongyang’s joining in the initiative is not a feasible goal for now amid heightened military tension, the committee earlier said it ultimately hopes North Korea will become involved when the conditions are met in the future.
South Korea exported $5.1 billion worth of goods to Russia in 2016, mainly in vehicles, auto parts and heavy equipment, according to the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency.