Asean, ROK eye US$150B trade by 2015
Danial Norjidi

ENCOURAGING progress has been made in the cooperation between Asean and the Republic of Korea (ROK) in a number of key areas, and potential exists for further cooperation politically, culturally and economically.

These points were put forward by His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, while delivering a Titah as Chair of the 16th Asean-Republic of Korea Summit.

In the Titah, His Majesty welcomed Park Geun Hye, the President of Republic of Korea to the Summit for the first time, and expressed his appreciation for the support that ROK has given Asean throughout the year.

His Majesty said he looked forward to working closely with the Republic of Korea to strengthen bilateral ties and Asean relations.

“The ROK has proven itself to be a generous contributor to our community building efforts and is a consistent supporter of Asean centrality in the regional architecture,” said the Monarch, noting that the ROK is also an active participant in Asean regional processes, including the Asean plus three activities such as the East Asia Vision Group 2, and the East Asia Forum.

“I am pleased with the encouraging progress made in our cooperation, such as the convening of the first Asean-Korea meeting on Asean connectivity,” His Majesty continued. “Also, we have done good work on making the Asean-Korea FTA more business friendly to reflect the needs of businesses in the region.”

“All this will bring us closer together towards achieving our trade volume target of US$150 billion by 2015,” the Ruler added.

His Majesty then went on to lend his support to President Park’s proposal to have a special summit in 2014 to commemorate 25 years of Asean-ROK relations, noting that it would offer an excellent opportunity to strengthen their strategic relationship.

“I believe this is most relevant to us, especially at a time when Asean is looking beyond 2015,” said the Monarch. “We in Brunei very much admire Korea’s remarkable economic transformation from agriculture to ICT industries.”

His Majesty highlighted that, today, Samsung and LG are among the world’s leading companies and are considered to be pioneers in innovative technology.

“Naturally, we are very keen to learn from ROK through cooperation in research and development, which will certainly enhance our innovative capacity,” His Majesty said. “Moreover, Korean dramas and popular music have a big following in our region. These are the kinds of linkages that can help build understanding and a sense of kinship among our people.”

The ruler expressed hope that both Asean and ROK can promote cooperation in areas of culture and arts.

Aside from this, His Majesty also observed that there has been some interest among Asean to advance political-security cooperation, and added that in Asean’s experience, the foundation of this cooperation is built on mutual trust and understanding, developed mainly through years of consultations and confidence building activities.

“For this reason, we greatly appreciate your personal effort, President Park, in coming up with bold initiatives this year to improve inter-Korean relations such as through the Trust-Building Process on the Korean peninsula, and the Initiative for Peace and Cooperation in Northeast Asia.”

His Majesty also shared that, on Asean’s part, the inclusion of the Kaesong Industrial Complex in the Asean-Korea Free Trade Agreement (FTA) has encouraged similar initiatives in building trust and confidence in the Korean peninsula, and added that it is encouraging to see the reopening of the complex last month.

“All in all, we are very much supportive of your work, President Park, in bringing us even closer together and helping to foster greater trust and understanding in the region,” concluded His Majesty.

President Park then delivered her opening remarks, in which she extended her highest gratitude for His Majesty and the Government of Brunei for their “excellent organisation” of this summit.

“I am especially delighted to see for myself that under the leadership of His Majesty that Brunei is achieving remarkable growth in various areas across politics, economy and society,” she highlighted.

The ROK President then went on to also express her gratitude to the Government of Indonesia and President Yudyohono for their excellent role as a dialogue coordinator since last year.

“Asean and Korea have long respected each other and endeavoured greatly for shared development,” she said.

“Since the new government was inaugurated this year, I have had a chance to meet the leaders of many Asean member states,” continued President Park.

“I hope that there will be more frequent reciprocal visits with the Asean leaders going forward so that proper exchange can take place in all aspects of politics and diplomacy, economy and culture,” she added.

Yesterday’s Asean-ROK Summit was attended by Heads of State and Government of Asean and the Republic of Korea. - Borneo Bulletin (10 October 2013)