Your Excellency, Minister Yoo Chong-Ha
Of the Korean and ASEAN Delegations,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
1. On behalf of all my ASEAN colleagues, I have the pleasure to welcome our dear colleague, H.E. Yoo Chong-Ha, the Foreign Minister of the Republic Of Korea and the members of his delegation to this year’s Post-Ministerial Conference.
2. On a more personal note let me also say that I am happy to see Minister Yoo again so soon after his recent visit to Manila.
3. As the Philippines concludes its term as country coordinator for the ASEAN-Korea Dialogue, allow me to say that we deeply value the mutual understanding and cooperation that have marked our joint efforts to advance ASEAN-Korea relations.
4. In the course of eight years of partnerships I believe our two side, have deepened our cooperative relationship in many areas, most notably, in trade, investments, tourism, human resources development and science and technology.
5. ASEAN-Korea trade, the expansion of which has been the major focus of our Dialogue, registered steady growth, going from $2.6 billion in 1980 to $32.2 billion in 1996. Today, Korea is ASEAN’s 5th largest trading partner.
6. Although the balance of trade has been heavily in Korea’s favor, ASEAN is not discouraged. We are simply more determined to pursue greater liberalization in our trade relations, in conformity with the trend towards regional and global liberalization that we both support.
7. We, too, are confident that with enough resourcefulness and imagination on the part of ASEAN, and with parallel import promotion efforts on the part of our Korean partners, this imbalance will correct itself over time.
8. During our meeting last year, we discussed the establishment of an ASAN-Korea committee of eminent persons to examine common issues and to submit recommendations on future cooperation to all our governments.
9. I am happy to note that this committee already held its first meeting on 28-30 May 1997, which was entitled “The ASEAN-Republic of Korea Forum for the 21st Century.” We appreciate the work of this Forum and we will seriously study its output.
10. On 15-16 May 1997, the Philippines hosted the Third Meeting of the ASEAN-Korea Dialogue, which raised several issues that will call for discussion later on this morning.
11. In addition, the Third Meeting approved a new initiative from Korea, namely, the ROK-ASEAN Future-Oriented Cooperation Projects, which calls for exchange programmes in the fields of youth, media and culture.
12. I would like to propose to our Korean partners, in turn, that we consider projects intended particularly to assist our newest ASEAN member countries integrate themselves into ASEAN and into our ASEAN-Korea Dialogue.
13. ASEAN sincerely appreciates the great importance that Korea has attached to our Dialogue and to its cooperation projects.
14. Through the ASEAN-ROK Special Cooperation Fund, we have undertaken forty-two projects in various areas since 1990. Yet, we also feel that the utilization of this fund could be improved further and could be expanded to cover more projects of mutual benefit. We hope that we will soon arrive at a new understanding on how best to proceed with our cooperation projects.
Excellency, Distinguished Delegates:
15. Our dynamic Dialogue partnership has been made possible in large part because of the political stability prevailing in our region. We, therefore, share the concerns of the Republic of Korea pertaining to problems which may disrupt our peaceful regional setting. We are confident that these problems will be fully considered and peacefully resolved through consultation and diplomacy.
16. In this regard, we welcome the reported pronouncements that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea may participate, in the Four-Party Talks. This development could be a major step in bringing lasting peace and security to the Korean Peninsula.
17. We, in ASEAN, also recognize the importance of KEDO to the stability of the whole Asia-Pacific Region. For this reason, we encourage all concerned nations to participate in KEDO.