1. The ASEAN leaders held three separate meetings with the leaders of China.Japan and Korea. We held fruitful discussions resulting in several important initiatives with all three countries.
ASEAN and China
2. In the meeting with Premier Zhu, we noted that China has been an important partner of ASEAN over the past decade. Our close relations have much to offer for regional peace and prosperity. We also noted that China’s accession to the World Trade Organisation will create market opportunities for both ASEAN and China, building on the momentum of our rapidly growing ties. At the same time, we are deeply grateful for China’s support in efforts to recover from the recent economic crisis.
3. We considered a study by the ASEAN-China Expert Group, set up in response to the suggestion by Premier Zhu at our meeting in Singapore last year. We endorsed the proposal for a Framework on Economic Cooperation and to establish an ASEAN-China Free Trade Area within 10 years with special and differential treatment and flexibility to the newer ASEAN members. The agreement should also provide for an “early harvest” in which the lists of products and services will be determined by mutual consultation. With a combined market of 1.7 billion people, a free trade area between ASEAN and China would have gross domestic product of $2 trillion and two-way trade of $1.23 trillion. We agreed to instruct our ministers and senior officials to start negotiations with a view to conclude the agreement as soon as possible.
4. In addition, China agreed to grant special preferential tariff treatment for some goods from Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar, the least developed members of ASEAN.
5. We identified agriculture, information technology, human resources development, investment and Mekong River basin development as five priority areas for cooperation in the early part of the new century. We agreed to work towards a consultation mechanism with the involvement of government officials, business people and academics. In this regard, we decided to convene a meeting of ASEAN and Chinese transport ministers. China also offered $5 million to help navigation along the upper stretches of the Mekong River in Laos, Myanmar and Thailand.
6. We agreed to strengthen cooperation in the information technology sector by holding a follow-up seminar to the one hosted by China last year.
7. We also agreed to cooperate in the area of HIV/AIDS and work closely together to combat the menace of drugs through ASEAN-China Cooperative Operations in Response to Dangerous Drugs.
8. As part of the Initiative for ASEAN Integration launched last year, we explored new possibilities for increasing China’s participation in various projects in the Mekong River basin area. We invited China to participate in the sub-regional growth areas of ASEAN.
9. In strengthening our political dialogue and cooperation in the region, we welcomed China’s readiness to accede to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia and to sign the protocol of the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon Free Zone Treaty. On the South China Sea, we reaffirmed our resolve to address the issue through dialogue and consultations.
ASEAN and Japan
10. In the meeting with Prime Minister Koizumi, we had a very useful exchange of views. We reaffirmed that ASEAN-Japan relations are very important and we all agreed that there is a need to strengthen our cooperation further.
11. We called that Japan was one of ASEAN’s oldest dialogue partners. Our relationship is based on friendship and cooperation as well as shared interests in peace, prosperity and development in the region. We noted that Japanese support to various ASEAN initiatives had been invaluable. Japan has contributed significantly to the national development of ASEAN members, and was at the forefront of international efforts to help Southeast Asia adjust to the financial shocks of 1997.
12. We also noted that Prime Minister Koizumi was exerting his utmost efforts to reform the Japanese economy. The return to a sustainable growth path would be a welcome development for all ASEAN countries. We expressed our hope that his efforts help reverse the economic downturn in the region and encourage new flows of Japanese investment towards Southeast Asia.
13. To boost both trade and investment, our ministers are examining ways to forge a closer economic partnership between ASEAN and Japan. In this regard, we welcomed the establishment of a group of experts to study how ASEAN’s economic partnership with Japan can be deepened. We agreed to give our full support to this group in fostering a closer economic partnership as a means of strengthening ASEAN-Japan cooperation.
14. On the integration initiative launched in Singapore last year, ASEAN leaders welcomed Japan’s assistance to Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Viet Nam. We are pleased that Japan will continue its commitment to assist ASEAN in priority areas of economic integration. We also welcomed Japan’s interest in developing the Mekong River basin, especially in the area of infrastructure.
15. We supported Japan’s offer to set up an ASEAN Information and Human Network for Infectious Diseases Control and expressed our appreciation to Japan for offering new information technology projects at the ASEAN Promotion Centre in Tokyo. The center is well positioned to promote trade, investment and tourism between Southeast Asia and Japan. We also viewed Japan’s idea of stepping up environmental cooperation as important.
16. We were glad to hear of Japan’s continued commitment to help ASEAN in the field of training and education. We asked Prime Minister Koizumi to explore the possibility of setting up training and education institutions in various ASEAN countries. The ASEAN leaders also expressed the hope that Japan would continue offering study trips for high-school students from Southeast Asia. By giving our youth such valuable opportunities to visit Japan, such trips further enhance understanding among all of our people. They also help to raise ASEAN awareness in Japan.
ASEAN and Korea
17. In the meeting with President Kim, leaders noted that relations between ASEAN and Korea had strengthened in recent years. We expressed our deep appreciation for his commitment to this process. Development cooperation between ASEAN and Korea has progressed well and is also unique. Most activities are future-oriented and involve youth or people working in the fields of media and culture.
18. In view of such progress, we agreed to broaden the bases of cooperation and promote awareness of the importance of relations among the people of Southeast Asia and Korea. Leaders also agreed to explore ways to enhance trade and economic links while encouraging the participation of the private sector in bilateral cooperative efforts.
19. We expressed our appreciation of Korea’s offer of assistance in the areas of human resources development, information technology, health and the environment. As a world leader in information technology, Korea is particularly well placed – its expertise and know-how can make a major contribution towards bridging the digital divide in ASEAN countries. The ASEAN leaders also welcomed Korea’s commitment to provide additional contributions of $2 million to the ASEAN-Korea special fund for next year.
20. Korea conveyed its intention to carry out projects to bridge socio-economic gaps both within ASEAN and between Southeast Asia and Northeast Asia. We invited Korea to participate in ASEAN’s various sub-regional growth areas. In this regard we invited Korea to be a core member of ASEAN Mekong Basin Development Cooperation. The ASEAN leaders also welcomed specific Korean proposals for an artist fellowship program and an international network and web design network.
21. ASEAN leaders reaffirmed their support for Korea’s policy of engagement and the continuation of the reconciliation process between the Republic of Korea and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. They look forward to the strengthened inter-Korean dialogue including the holding of the Second Inter-Korean Summit.