1. The ASEAN Plus Three Foreign Ministers’ Meeting was held at 17:45-19:25, September 9 (Korea Standard Time), in a virtual format. Minister of Foreign Affairs Kang, Kyung-wha attended the meeting, in which she discussed cooperation on COVID-19 response and ways to achieve economic recovery, and exchanged views on regional affairs, including issues on the Korean Peninsula.
2. The Republic of Korea, as coordinator for the ROK-China-Japan side, made the first statement among the three countries, following the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam, the ASEAN chair for 2020. In her opening statement, Minister Kang noted with appreciation that during the financial crisis in East Asia and every health crisis including SARS, the ASEAN+3 has dealt with them effectively through institutionalized mechanism for multilateral cooperation. She also stressed the importance of collaboration and cooperation in responding to the COVID-19 crisis building on past experience of cooperation.
o In addition, she expressed hope that today’s meeting would become an opportunity to share the progress since the virtual Special ASEAN Plus Three Summit held in April this year, as well as to discuss ways to strengthen East Asia’s resilience by continuing cooperation and solidarity based on a strong multilateral system.
3. Minister Kang first explained the ROK’s progress regarding health and medical cooperation and economic recovery measures, which had been discussed at the Summit in April, and suggested faithfully reviewing the progress in implementing the follow-up measures and further advancing the progress made so far.
4. On health and medical cooperation, Minister Kang emphasized that timely and transparent exchange of information is important in order to overcome crises. Minister Kang went on to say that the ROK is cooperating with ASEAN for the launch of ROK-ASEAN health dialogue, and expressed support for strengthening the early warning system in the region as a channel for information sharing and mutual support.
o Minister Kang mentioned the ROK’s contributions, including its US$1 million contribution to the Covid-19 ASEAN Response Fund, launched on the occasion of the 36th ASEAN Summit (June 26), and expected the Fund to reinforce ASEAN’s capacity to respond to the pandemic.
o Furthermore, Minister Kang stressed that to overcome COVID-19, it is necessary to increase international cooperation on development and distribution of vaccines and treatments. She said that the ROK is participating in the global efforts to secure sufficient and efficient distribution of vaccines around the world, including East Asia, and mentioned the International Vaccine Institute (IVI)’s role to do so.
5. Minister Kang said that to achieve a swift economic recovery, it is important to facilitate trade and investment in the region and build sustainable supply chains, and stressed the importance of maintaining the essential movement of people, keeping markets open, and maintaining a sound food supply chain.
o Minister Kang took note that the ROK government has agreed to create ‘fast track entry program’ with some ASEAN countries to ensure that essential travel is guaranteed, and added that protocols for broader people-to-people exchange in a calibrated manner could be further considered.
o Minister Kang also stressed the need for continuing efforts to reduce trade barriers in order to minimize the negative impact of the COVID-19 on regional trade and investment, and expressed hope that the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) would be signed within this year, achieving meaningful results that uphold free trade and multilateralism.
o Minister Kang expressed the ROK’s willingness to continue its contribution to the ASEAN Plus Three Emergency Rice Reserve (APTERR), operated in preparation for food security crises in the region, so that it can play its role smoothly in case of a food crisis caused by COVID-19.
6. Participants in the meeting shared the view that close cooperation among ten ASEAN countries and the ROK, the People's Republic of China, and Japan is essential for overcoming COVID-19, including distribution of vaccines, and to revive the region’s economy. They agreed to continue stepping up regional cooperation by operating and expanding the ASEAN+3’s cooperative system in areas, including health, economy and finance, and food security.
7. In addition, the participants exchanged views on key regional issues. Regarding the situation on the Korean Peninsula, Minister Kang emphasized that the ROK government’s commitment to resolve the issue through dialogue is steadfast and that dialogue among the ROK, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, and the United States should resume at the earliest possible date to make substantial progress in achieving complete denuclearization and establishment of permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula. She added that she looks forward to the ASEAN+3’s continued support for the ROK government’s consistent efforts to make progress in inter-Korean peace and cooperation.
o The participants agreed on the necessity of early resumption of dialogue in order to achieve denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and regional peace and stability, and expressed their support for the ROK government’s efforts to resume inter-Korean cooperation and dialogue.
8. Vietnam, the ASEAN chair, will announce the Chairman's Statement reflecting the results of discussions at today’s meeting.
9. The ROK government will continue to strengthen cooperation so that East Asia can move towards a “People-centered Community of Peace and Prosperity,” the goal of the New Southern Policy.