International: ASEAN and the Republic of Korea (ROK) agreed to further strengthen their strategic partnership at the 23rd Senior Officials Meeting in Bandar Seri Begawan today. Both sides discussed ways and means to make the partnership more robust as they mark the 30th anniversary of their relations this year.
The meeting welcomed the substantive progress made in ASEAN-ROK cooperation over the past year including the implementation of decisions made at the ASEAN-ROK Summit in November 2018 as well as the ASEAN-ROK Plan of Action (2016-2020).
ASEAN and the ROK agreed to further advance cooperation in areas of mutual interest including counter terrorism, transnational crime, cyber security, maritime cooperation, digital economy, development of MSMEs, food and energy security, culture, people-to- people exchanges, education, disaster management, connectivity and narrowing the development gap. They also agreed to develop a new five-year Plan of Action after the expiry of the current Plan at the end of this year.
The Senior Officials reaffirmed the commitment of ASEAN and the ROK to further enhance trade and investment, including intensifying efforts to achieve two-way trade volume of USD 200 billion by 2020, a target which the Leaders of ASEAN and the ROK agreed to in 2014.
The meeting took note of the ongoing preparations for the ASEAN-ROK Commemorative Summit to be held in November this year in Busan on the occasion of the 30th Anniversary of Dialogue Relations. Both sides agreed to continue working together to bring about substantive outcomes of the Commemorative Summit, including the issuance of a joint vision statement to add momentum to further strengthening of the partnership.
The ROK welcomed the adoption of the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific which will serve as a guide for ASEAN’s engagement and cooperation in the wider Indo-Pacific region.
ASEAN appreciated the ROK’s continued support for ASEAN Community building efforts such as through the implementation of the New Southern Policy initiated by President Moon Jae-in in 2017. The meeting welcomed the ROK’s plan to double its contribution to the ASEAN-ROK Cooperation Fund from currently USD 7 million to USD 14 million annually from the end of 2019 to support more joint programmes and projects.