1. Minister of Foreign Affairs Kang Kyung-wha attended the 22nd ASEAN-ROK Ministerial Meeting held in Bangkok, the Kingdom of Thailand, on August 1 in her capacity as co-chair. During the Meeting, the participants reviewed the current situation of the ASEAN-Republic of Korea (ROK) cooperation; shared the progress in and relevant strategies for the implementation of the New Southern Policy; and exchanged in-depth views on regional and global situations, including that on the Korean Peninsula.
2. Minister Kang spoke about the progress and the future visions of the New Southern Policy, which the ROK government is actively carrying out in a bid to further expand and deepen the ASEAN-ROK cooperation that has continued for 30 years since the establishment of the ASEAN-ROK Dialogue Partnership in 1989.
°The ministers from the ASEAN countries commended the ROK government’s efforts to upgrade its relations with ASEAN and dramatically expand the scope and depth of cooperation, adding that the ASEAN countries will cooperate actively for a smooth implementation of the New Southern Policy.
° The two sides reaffirmed that both the ROK and ASEAN are seeking a “people-centered” community; and agreed to work together in increasing people-to-people exchanges to connect the hearts of the peoples of the ROK and ASEAN and in building capacity of future generations.
- The ministers from the ASEAN countries highly commended the ROK government’s efforts to improve its visa system with the aim to expand people-to-people exchanges, as well as to increase scholarship programs for building capacity of future generations.
° The two sides shared the understanding that for building a genuinely co-prosperous community, it is essential to narrow the development gap and enhance the connectivity among the ASEAN countries. On that note, they highly commended the ROK government’s substantive cooperation projects, such as increased development cooperation with ASEAN; support for the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity 2025 (MPAC 2025); the joining of the ASEAN Smart Cities Network (ASCN); the conclusion of an ASEAN-ROK air services agreement; and assistance to small- and medium-sized enterprises in ASEAN countries.
° In addition, the ROK and ASEAN delegations, sharing the understanding that free trade is vital to mutual prosperity, agreed to continue cooperation in strengthening the free trade system, including by concluding a Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) in 2019 and further liberalizing the ASEAN-ROK FTA.
° Minister Kang stressed that the export-restrictive measures, which had been taken against the ROK in a unilateral and arbitrary manner, pose a challenge not only to the world trade order but also to the co-prosperity of the ROK and ASEAN. The ministers from the ASEAN countries expressed concern over the current situation and agreed on the importance of the free trade order.
° Minister Kang recalled that a momentum of dialogue on issues concerning the Korean Peninsula had been created after the meetings at the truce village of Panmunjeom on June 30, and asked for ASEAN’s continued support and cooperation for the dialogue to move substantially forward toward complete denuclearization and the establishment of lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula.
- The ministers from the ASEAN countries expressed support for the efforts of the governments of the ROK and other parties concerned toward complete denuclearization and the establishment of lasting peace, adding that the ASEAN countries will continue to actively contribute in that regard.
3. Minister Kang reminded the other ministers of the plan to hold the 2019 ASEAN-ROK Commemorative Summit and the inaugural Mekong-ROK Summit in Busan in November 2019 as part of the efforts to upgrade the ASEAN-ROK relations; and asked for continued interest and assistance of the ASEAN countries.
° The ministers from the ASEAN countries mentioned that they will cooperate actively for the ASEAN-ROK Commemorative Summit and the Mekong-ROK Summit to be held successfully.
° Minister Kang mentioned that efforts are underway to establish a sustainable cooperative mechanism for a remarkable promotion of substantive cooperation between the two sides and to produce substantial deliverables at the Commemorative Summit. She voiced hope that after close consultations with ASEAN, an ASEAN-ROK joint vision statement and an ASEAN-ROK Co-Chairs’ statement will be agreed upon and adopted in November as outcome documents containing such efforts.