1. Minister of Foreign Affairs Kang Kyung-wha attended the ASEAN Plus Three (APT) Foreign Ministers’ Meeting held in the Kingdom of Thailand on August 2. During the Meeting, the ministers reviewed the achievements of the APT that marks the 22nd anniversary of its launch in 2019 and exchanged views on the way forward for cooperation.
2. At the Meeting, Minister Kang sternly pointed out and expressed deep concern over Japan’s unilateral and arbitrary export-restrictive measures against the Republic of Korea, including the removal of the ROK from Japan’s whitelist announced on the morning of August 2.
° In particular, Minister Kang stressed that such export-restrictive measures contravene the spirit of “establishing a free and fair trade environment,” which had been emphasized at the G20 Summit hosted by Japan in 2019.
- The Minister dismissed the Japanese government’s groundless argument that the measure is part of the export management efforts and is not related to free trade issues, and called for the withdrawal of the Japanese government’s measure.
° The Minister pointed out that the measure not only undermines the co-prosperity of the region but also can pose a serious challenge to cooperation between ASEAN, and the ROK, Japan and the People’s Republic of China; and highlighted the importance of free trade.
° The ASEAN countries agreed on the importance of maintaining the free trade order; particularly underlined the importance of “trust”; and expressed hope for the resolution of the issue through dialogue.
3. The participating foreign ministers noted with appreciation that the APT has transformed challenges into opportunities on the basis of its joint crisis management mechanism; and agreed to continue boosting not only institutionalized cooperation in such areas as finance and food security but also people-to-people and cultural exchanges.
° In particular, the ministers noted that the APT Finance Ministers’ and Central Bank Governors’ Meeting, the APT’s financial consultative body that marks the 20th anniversary in 2019, has made great contributions to the economic stability in the region; and welcomed that the Chiang Mai Initiative Multilateralization (CMIM) Agreement, the recently amended version of which had been finally approved, has improved its effectiveness.
4. Minister Kang took note of the steady achievements by the APT in various areas, such as finance, food security, and cultural and people-to-people exchanges. In particular, amid the growing tide of trade protectionism, she asked the APT to once again play a significant role to promote prosperity and peace in the region.
° Minister Kang noted with appreciation the continued increase in the APT’s functional cooperation, including the provision of rice through the ASEAN Plus Three Emergency Rice Reserve (APTERR), expanded exchanges among the three countries’ ASEAN centers, such as the ASEAN-Korea Centre, and active people-to-people and cultural exchanges through the East Asia Forum (EAF) and the Network of East Asian Think-tanks (NEAT).
° Minister Kang also expressed hope that the currently ongoing negotiations on a regional comprehensive economic partnership (RCEP) will be concluded within this year, and that the RCEP will serve as a foundation for free and fair trade.
5. Minister Kang expressed strong concern over the recent launches of missiles and projectiles by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea; spoke about the ROK government’s commitment and efforts to maintain the momentum of dialogue on issues concerning the Korean Peninsula built in the wake of the meetings at the truce village of Panmunjeom on June 30; and asked for ASEAN’s continued support and cooperation in achieving substantial progress toward complete denuclearization and the establishment of a lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula.
° The ministers of the other participating countries underscored the importance of the efforts to resume dialogue for denuclearization and peace on the Korean Peninsula; and commended and expressed support for the efforts of the ROK and other parties concerned.