Deputy Minister Yeo introduced the new government’s vision of a “global pivotal state”, discussed cooperation in public health and economy, and shared the ROK’s views about regional issues, including the situation on the Korean Peninsula.
1. The ASEAN Plus Three (APT) Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM) was held online at 11:00-13:00 (KST) on June 8, 2022. Deputy Minister for Political Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Yeo Seung-Bae attended the meeting as the head of the Republic of Korea’s delegation. Participants reviewed the progress made in cooperation in areas such as public health, trade, supply chains, and finance and discussed the future direction of APT cooperation, including cooperation for post-COVID-19 recovery.
ㅇ The APT SOM kicked off the two-day series of ASEAN-related SOMs, including the SOM of the East Asia Summit and the ASEAN Regional Forum.
* Since its launch in 1997 as a regional mechanism to tackle the Asian financial crisis, ASEAN+3 has expanded cooperation to cover more than 20 areas including health, finance, the economy, and food security. Participating countries are the 10 ASEAN member countries, China, Japan, and the ROK. The APT SOM is attended by vice ministers or deputy ministers from member countries.
2. Deputy Minister Yeo delivered the opening statement in his capacity as the coordinator for the plus three countries (ROK, China, and Japan) and explained that the new ROK government is committed to embracing a greater role in achieving freedom, peace, and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific and beyond and making the ROK into a “global pivotal state”. In celebration of the 25th anniversary of the ASEAN+3 process, he suggested that member countries should work together closely so as to make ASEAN+3 the most effective platform for regional cooperation.
3. In the main session, Deputy Minister Yeo mentioned that the ROK government has been supporting ASEAN’s response to COVID-19 by making contributions to the COVID-19 ASEAN Response Fund and providing bilateral support as well as multilateral contributions, including the additional $300 million ACT-A* pledge on May 12. He emphasized that efforts should be made to strengthen the resilience of health systems to better prepare for future pandemics.
* Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A) is a global collaboration launched in April 2020 to accelerate the development, production, and equitable access to COVID-19 tests, therapies, and vaccines.
ㅇ In this regard, he shared the results of the first ASEAN-ROK Health Ministers’ Meeting on May 15 and the ROK’s designation as the WHO Global Biomanufacturing Workforce Training Hub and plans to hold the Vaccine Cooperation Forum and the World Bio Summit, all in the second half of this year.
4. Regarding cooperation for economic recovery, Deputy Minister Yeo highlighted the significance of the entry into force of Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership* this year and mentioned that the launch of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework**, of which the ROK is a participant, will contribute to the economic recovery and mutual prosperity of the Indo-Pacific region in ways that complement other regional trade agreements.
ㅇ He also said that the ROK hopes to expand regional cooperation to build a resilient supply chain, facilitate the transition toward a digital and green economy, and overcome food and energy crises.
＊ RCEP: 10 ASEAN countries, the ROK, China, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand (a total of 15 members)
** IPEF: 7 ASEAN member countries, the ROK, the United States, Japan etc. (a total of 14 members)
5. Regarding the situation on the Korean Peninsula, Deputy Minister Yeo said that the series of missile test launches by the DPRK, which include ICBM launches, is a clear violation of UN Security Council resolutions and called on ASEAN+3 countries to take a firm and united stance against the DPRK’s continued provocations, including a possible 7th nuclear test.
о He also mentioned that the ROK government will keep the door open for dialogue and diplomacy for a peaceful resolution of the DPRK nuclear issue. He added that the ROK is watching with concern the COVID-19 situation in the DPRK, is willing to work with the international community to provide assistance, and hopes the DPRK will respond positively to this offer.
6. Participants said that efforts to enhance the relevance of ASEAN+3 are necessary for it to continue to develop as the main vehicle for regional cooperation and that it is necessary to effectively respond to new emerging challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, and global supply chain disruptions through the ASEAN+3 Work Plan for 2023-2027, which is currently being prepared with the aim of being adopted at the upcoming Foreign Ministers' Meeting.
＊ ASEAN+3 Work Plan is a five-year plan for cooperation in areas such as politics & security, the economy, and society & culture.
о ASEAN delegates emphasized the importance of peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in Myanmar, the South China Sea, and Ukraine for the economic recovery in the region and called for continued cooperation and support from the ROK, China, and Japan for ASEAN's sustainable development, enhanced connectivity, and digital transformation.