Korea to provide another $5M to Asean Response Fund for Covid-19
Korea will provide an additional $5 million to the Asean Response Fund for Covid-19 to speed along vaccination and strengthen the global supply chain to contribute to Southeast Asia's economic recovery, said President Moon Jae-in Tuesday.
Moon said in a virtual summit with leaders of Southeast Asian nations that Korea and Asean must "share a deeper friendship in order for better recovery" from the Covid-19 pandemic and "build an inclusive and sustainable future together." He voiced concerns over the spread of the Delta variant in regions with low vaccination rates and the constraints faced by the global economy.
He added in his opening remarks at the 22nd Korea-Asean summit that "solidarity and cooperation is the only way to overcome Covid-19," focusing on ways to cope with the public health crisis and strengthen regional partnership.
To assist coronavirus response efforts in the region, the Korean government has contributed $6 million to Asean for the Covid-19 response fund, $5 million in Covid-19 test kits and protective gear, $19 million in a comprehensive support program, and another $3 million allocated to Myanmar for humanitarian assistance.
Moon urged to deepen the strategic partnership with Asean nations under his administration's New Southern Policy that aims to diversify Korea's economic portfolio through strengthening cooperation with Southeast Asia.
The Moon administration introduced the upgraded New Southern Policy Plus mechanism to further expand cooperation in public health infrastructure capacity building, promote connectivity by revamping supply chains and jointly strengthening the East Asian regional architecture.
The two sides also acknowledged the shared principles of the New Southern Policy and the "Asean Outlook on the Indo-Pacific," first introduced in June 2019 which aims to solidify Asean centrality.
The 10 Asean countries are: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. However, Myanmar did not take part in this summit.
The leaders issued a joint statement following the summit and agreed to advance the Asean-Korea strategic partnership "into a more substantial, dynamic and mutually beneficial relationship to better respond to regional and global opportunities and challenges and contribute to enhancing peace, stability and prosperity in the region."
They stressed three areas of cooperation: people, prosperity and peace.
The two sides agreed to work toward the United Nation's sustainable development goals and cooperate in areas including Covid-19 and public health emergency response, environment and climate change, biodiversity conservation and disaster management.
The also agreed to cooperate in education, science and technology, human resources development in response to the future of work and digital transformation, and cultural and people-to-people exchanges.
Korea and the Asean nations plan to strengthen economic resilience and trade and investment, support for businesses such as small- and medium-sized companies and start-ups and improve energy transitions and green growth. They also will cooperate in digital economy, digital innovation, digital connectivity, cybersecurity and the fourth industrial revolution.
They also agreed to work on maritime security and safety cooperation, as well as marine sustainability, including addressing plastic debris in the oceans.
Korea signed separate bilateral FTAs with Cambodia and the Philippines Tuesday.
Moon also urged for the implementation within the year of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, a multilateral trade pact signed by Korea, China, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and the Asean countries last year, referred to as a "mega-FTA."
On Wednesday, Moon will take part in the East Asian Summit (EAS) and Asean Plus Three summit, bringing South Korea, China and Japan together with the Southeast Asian countries.
BY SARAH KIM [email@example.com]
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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