President Moon Jae-in’s summit diplomacy is evaluated to have laid a solid foundation for economic cooperation between Korea and ASEAN during ASEAN-Republic of Korea Commemorative Summit
President Moon Jae-in, center, poses with heads of ASEAN member states during the ASEAN-Republic of Korea Commemorative Summit at BEXCO in Busan, Nov. 26. (Photos on the courtesy of Cheong Wa Dae website)
The ASEAN-Republic of Korea Commemorative Summit brought together ASEAN leaders in Busan from Nov. 25 to Nov. 26 to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the launch of the dialogue. They agreed to promote shared prosperity through free trade.
The 3rd commemorative summit also coincided with first Mekong-Korea Summit held on Nov. 27.
President Moon Jae-in’s summit diplomacy, in which he had a succession of summit talks with ASEAN leaders during the events is evaluated to have laid a solid foundation for economic cooperation between the two sides. In particular, the “New Southern Policy,” one of the President Moon Jae-in government’s national goals, is expected to open up a new horizon, analysts said.
The New Southern Policy is designed to raise cooperative relationships with India and ASEAN countries to the levels of the four powers - the United States, China, Japan and Russia. ASEAN is at the center of global dynamics.
ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), which has already become the fifth biggest economic bloc in the world with high growth, is predicted to rise to the 4th by 2030. Both sides at the 20th ASEAN-ROK Special Summit, held in Jeju in 2009, agreed to raise bilateral trade volumes to $150 billion within six years. Last year, the figure between Korea and ASEAN countries had already surpassed $160 billion beyond the goal.
In the co-chair’s statement of the 2019 ASEAN-Republic of Korea Commemorative Summit, Korean and ASEAN leaders proposed principles on the realization of peace on the Korean Peninsula. Examples include a call for North Korea’s restraint in missile tests, international efforts on the denuclearization of the peninsula and the complying with the U.N. Security Council requirements.
In a statement, titled “ASEAN Republic of Korea Joint Vision Statement for Peace, Prosperity and Partnership,” the leaders stressed the protecting of regional order based on multilateral principles by calling for solving maritime security issues in accordance with United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, said Choi Yoon-jeong, chief of the New Southern Policy Cooperation Center at the Sejong Institute.
The statement also suggested a vision of Korean-ASEAN peace and prosperity by combining the community’s three pillars of people, prosperity, and peace and the 3Ps of the New Southern Policy – peace, prosperity, and people, she said.
President Moon Jae-in (third from right) poses for a photo with Laotain Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith (left), Myanmar State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi (second from left), Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha (third from left), Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc (second from right) and Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Prak Sokhonn ahead of the 1st South Korea-Mekong Summit in Busan on Nov. 27.
The latest commemorative summit also coincided with about 40 side events such as the CEO Summit, Startup Expo, and Smart City Fair to serve as opportunities to peek into a co-prosperity future. It is noteworthy that Korea hosted the first Mekong-Korea Summit to inaugurate a cooperative regime in the smaller area of ASEAN, according to Choi of the Sejong Institute.
Most of the countries in the Meking River countries – Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand – are developing states, but the five countries are growing at an annual average growth rate of 6.32 percent, higher than 5.3 percent, the average of the other ASEAN member countries.
The inaugural Mekong-Korea Summit was owed to Korea’s eight years of diplomatic efforts toward the establishment of the looking-forward consultative regime.
The Mekong-Han River Declaration for Establishing Partnership for People, Prosperity and Peace, issued at the end of the 1st Mekong-Korea Summit, contained Korea’s Mekong River countries’ determination to make joint efforts to achieve the “Mekong Miracle,” as Korea made an explosive economic growth, dubbed “Han River Miracle.”
Korea’s summit talks with nine participating leaders yielded outcomes. During the ASEAN-Korea Summit, the nation obtained momentum to propel free trade by concluding a Free Trade Agreement with Indonesia, seeking to sign an FTA each with the Philippines and Malaysia, and agreeing to survey an FTA with Cambodia.
Korea also won cooperative projects with some of the ASEAN countries, including smart city projects with Vietnam, Singapore, Myanmar and Brunei, e-Government projects with Malaysia and Brunei.
The statement, titled “ASEAN Republic of Korea Joint Vision Statement for Peace, Prosperity and Partnership,” issued at the end of the third commemorative summit, expressed satisfaction with the positive development of ASEAN-Korea relations over the past 30 years since the establishment of dialogue relations in 1989.
It acknowledged that Korea’s New Southern Policy, which aims to further strengthen and deepen the ASEAN-ROK Strategic Partnership based on the three pillars of people, prosperity, and peace and Korea’s contribution to ASEAN community building.
“Advancement of the ASEAN is Korea’s advancement. cooperating over the past 30 years through friendship and trust, we have shown ‘potential of Asia,’ overcoming financial and foreign exchange crises,” President Moon was quoted as saying ahead of announcing the joint press statement.
“Now, we have the confidence to propose a new answer for the future of the globe through the ‘spirit of Asia,’” he said.
Korean and ASEAN leaders and CEOs participate in the 2019 ASEAN-ROK CEO Summit held at BEXCO in Busan on Nov. 25. They are (from left) Minister of Trade, Industry and Energy Sung Yun-mo, Prime Minister ThonglounSisoulith of Laos, State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi of Myanmar, President Moon Jae-in, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha of Thailand, Chairman Park Yongmaan of the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and Chairman Jim Rogers of Rogers Holdings and Beeland Interests, Inc.
President Moon’s Succession of Bilateral Talks with ASEAN Leaders
On the sidelines of these summits, President Moon Jae-in held bilateral summits with the leaders of the 10 ASEAN member states.
On Nov. 23, President Moon held the first of the four summits in Seoul with Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei Darussalam was in the next on Nov. 24, followed by Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc of Vietnam on Nov. 27 and Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad of Malaysia on Nov. 28.
In Busan, President Moon held back-to-back talks over two days, Nov. 25-26, with Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha of Thailand, President Joko Widodo of Indonesia, Prime Minister Hun Sen of Cambodia, President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines, State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi of Myanmar and Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith of Laos.
The bilateral summits served as an opportunity to take stock of the achievements President Moon has made during his visits to all 10 ASEAN member states in around two and a half years since his inauguration. They also became an opportunity to develop a more well-defined blueprint for future cooperation based on the friendship that President Moon has forged with each leader of ASEAN.
In addition, extensive, in-depth discussions were concerning ways to raise the level of cooperation to new heights in various fields where it is already active, including trade and investment, infrastructure, national defense and the defense industry, agriculture, healthcare, development cooperation and cultural and people-to-people exchanges.