President Estrada, and esteemed colleagues from the countries of the region.
I am delighted to join all of you and be a part of this meaningful gathering of the leaders of the 10 ASEAN countries and three countries of Northeast Asia.
I thank President Estrada and the Philippine government for their unsparing effort in preparing for our meeting.
I place a great deal of importance on this meeting taking place just one month before the start of the new millennium to seek concrete measures for cooperation to promote coprosperity in the region.
In overcoming the problems triggered by the foreign currency crisis of late 1997, the Korean government has been bold in implementing reforms in four key areas financial, corporate, pubic, and labor sectors and in market opening.
As a result, the nation’s foreign currency reserve has markedly increased, from a low of 3.9 billion dollars in December 1997 to around 68.5 billion dollars at present.
Prices, exchanges rates and interest rates have maintained stability, maintained stability, and the GDP growth rate is making a dramatic turnaround from -5.8% last year to around 9% this year.
We learned three important lessons from our experience of the economic crisis.
First, it is through bold internal reforms and trade and investment liberalization that we were able to overcome the crisis in such a short period of time.
Second, sustained economic growth cannot be achieved without due consideration being paid to the less-privileged classes of society, and thus the need for a firm social safety net.
Third, in this age of globalization, no country can be entirely free from the world or other regions.
Therefore, for steady, sustained development, each country must consolidate its own economic management, and there must also be stability and growth in the regional and global economies.
East Asian Cooperation
East Asia is full of dynamism and diversity. The region is expected to be the place for the most active growth in the new century.
In order to maximize the growth potential of the region, we must work out and implement cooperative measures to pursue balanced interests among ourselves in the political, economic, social, cultural and other fields.
In this regard, I wish to make the following three proposals.
Private propose that we establish private-sector consultative groups for various industries.
Private sector participation and initiative is essential for concrete promotion of economic cooperation in East Asia.
For example, we can , set up such industry-specific business fora in ten or so industries, such as information and telecommunications, culture and tourism, and the finance industry.
I believe such fora could serve as the vehicle for real cooperation promoting information exchange, business alliances and search for cooperative projects, and technology cooperation.
Second, I propose that we cooperate in undertaking projects to alleviate the socio-economic disparities among the East-Asian countries.
The knowledge and information gap among countries is likely to widen in the 21st century, heightening the chance for conflict and confrontation among countries and threatening regional peace and stability. Efforts to prevent this must be strengthened.
Here, firstly, the countries of the region must take part together in the transition to the “networked” economy so as to forestall-the gap of the in information age.
Training programs in information and telecommunications, computer applications and other sectors should be greatly expanded, so that more people can have access to “informatization”.
So must the opportunities for vocational education and training among the countries of the region through cyber education utilizing the Internet and other information media.
And we should support projects for the construction of information infrastructure, such as the networking of information superhighways and provisions of computers and CDMA.
Secondly, we should further activate science and technology transfer.
Toward this end, we should promote exchanges of high-tech human resources in the region.
Furthermore, we should review measures to support the building of a technology speciality “network”, incorporating meteorological and other science and technology information in the region.
Thirdly, we must also establish a system of emergency relief among the countries of the region, centering around civic organizations, so as to provide prompt assistance to countries struck by natural disasters.
To further develop these ideas f or cooperation, I suggest that we hold region-wide meetings of, related professionals and engage in joint research projects.
Third, I propose that we review ways for the Medium-and-long term promotion of an East Asia Economic Cooperation System.
Given the fact that a foreign currency crisis that began in one country of the region had global repercussions and a grave effect on the neighboring countries of East Asia, there is an urgent need for closer cooperation among the countries of the region.
In this regard, I thank you for your support in the success of tire 1st meeting in Seoul on October 21 and 22 of tire East Asia Vision Group, which was established at my suggestion in our gathering last year.
I hope that the East Asia Vision Group will study concrete ways to nurture East Asia into a single community of cooperation, serving as the basis for the countries of the region to start the discussion oil the related issues in earnest.
Reforming the International Financial Architecture
Turning our attention to the issue of reforming the international financial architecture,, to my knowledge, there is a general consensus that the current system must be restructured for global financial stability.
In this regard, let me make three suggestions.
First, we should strengthen monitoring so as to restrain hedge funds and speculative capital from causing damage.
Second, in preventing and diffusing a financial crisis, we should encourage the participation and cooperation of private financial institutions in rescheduling loan terms and providing rescue funds.
Third, to minimize the damage front speculative global capital flow, we should strengthen the financial system of tire newly emerging market economies.
I welcome the decision to hold a G-20 meeting to discuss the related issues, where many key developing countries will participate.
I also believe it was quite timely that the ASEAN+3 meeting of vice ministers of finance and vice presidents of central banks was held.
Finally, I would like to welcome China’s impending entry into the WTO. I have every expectation that China’s membership will not only facilitate China’s further development but also greatly contribute to the prosperity Of the East Asian region as a whole.
I firmly believe that there — is unlimited potential for growth among the 13 countries of East Asia. I also value the great diversity that we represent.
Based on this potential and diversity, our strengthened cooperation will not only benefit each one of us, but also contribute to the betterment of this region and the world.
I sincerely hope that our meeting leadership of President Estrada, Will produce many fruitful results.