Distinguished delegates from the ASEAN member countries,
It is a great pleasure for me to be here with you and have a discussion on the ROK-ASEAN Dialogue relations. This forum now with a new name of “nine plus one”, provides us with a valuable opportunity to look at the current status of Korea-ASEAN relations and to seek ways and means to level up those ties.
First of all, on behalf of the people and Government of Korea, I would like to extend my heartfelt congratulations to the member countries of ASEAN on this year’s marking of the 30th Anniversary of their grouping. The ASEAN’s founding fathers’ dream of achieving peace and stability through regional cooperation and solidarity has materialised in the form of the long peace and economic development seen in the region for the last thirty year. Making this anniversary even more meaningful is, of course, the admission of two new members, Laos and Myanmar, on which I also wish to stress my warmest congratulations. I have no doubt that the long-aspired goal of ASEAN-10 is now nearer to its fulfillment than ever before.
On Korea part, we are happy to note that we are already enjoying substantial, growing relations with the new members. And I would like to take this opportunity to welcome their participation in the Korea-ASEAN Dialogue Partnership and look forward to working closely with them.
We have witnessed a great stride forward in the ROK-ASEAN relations during the short span of time since the establishment of the Full Dialogue Partnership between Korea and ASEAN in 1991. This rapid progress has been possible thanks to various factors. We have benefited from our geographical proximity, cultural affinity and most importantly, willingness of the peoples of ASEAN and Korea to work together for a common future. The surge of globalism and regionalism in today’s world has also helped to reinforce the interdependent nature of the relationship between Korea and ASEAN.
The trade between Korea and ASEAN, which was already substantial at the start of the full dialogue partner, has multiplied by 2.5 times, jumping from 1.3 billion to 3.2 billion US dollars during the 6 yews. The ASEAN region is now Korea’s third largest overseas investment destination after the US and China. The region is also where Korean construction firms are undertaking their largest activities outside Korea. We feel honored and proud that we are contributing to the building of infrastructure of ASEAN countries, the basis for further industrialisation of ASEAN.
Korea-ASFAN cooperation in the political and security areas is now burgeoning. Taking this occasion, I should like to draw your attention to the situation on the Korean Peninsula which unfortunately plants a stark contrast with the peace and harmony enjoyed by Southeast Asian countries.
In the process of seeking a peaceful resolution of the Korean problem, we need active support and cooperation from the members of ASEAN. It is a well known assumption that stability in Northeast Asia is essential for a sustained economic development of Southeast Asia. In this sense, I hope that there will be more opportunities for both sides to explore ways to enhance political and security cooperation at various fora including the current ROK- ASEAN Dialogue.
One of the efforts made in this direction led to the creation of the ROK-ASEAN Forum for the 21st Century. The Forum, proposed by President Kim Young Sam during his visit to Singapore in February 1996, was successfully inaugurated with the First Meeting held in Seoul last May. The leaders of both sides had a very useful opportunity for exchange of views and visions. I wish to convey my words of thanks to the ASEAN members for their support and assistance for the successful start of the Forum. We look forward to fruitful outcomes from the next two meetings of the Forum to be held in Singapore in February next year and again in Seoul in November.
The KOREAN-ASEAN Special Cooperation Fund(SCF), established in 1989, has served as the main vehicle for funding ROK-ASEAN cooperation projects. Using the SCF, we have been able to adopt and implement various programmes of cooperation in the fields of trade, investment, tourism, science and technology, and human resources development.
From 1990 to 1996,, Korea has contributed to the SCF a sum of 11 million US dollars, with which Korea and ASEAN have implemented 40 cooperation projects. In 1997, we are planning to contribute another one million US dollars to the Fund.
Aside from the existing cooperation efforts, we will also embark on a series of future-oriented projects from this year on. These projects are aimed at exploring and promoting new areas of cooperation between Korea and ASEAN in preparation for the coming 21st century. The details of the plan for the future-oriented projects will be presented and discussed during the following session. In embarking on these new proton, we expect even more friendly and cooperative ties with the members of ASEAN.
Finally, the Government of the Philippines has so kindly and successfully played the role of coordinating country for Korea-ASEAN dialogue relations for the last three years. We owe a great deal to the exellenct coordination provided by the Philippines for the achievement of the current state of the ROK-ASEAN relations.
On the occasion of this 9 + 1 meeting co-chaired by His Excellency Domingo Siazon, Foreign Secretary of the Philippine Government, I wish to pay my deepest tribute to Secretary Saizon and, through him, to the Philippine Government.