The Ninth ASEAN+Three Summit in Kuala Lumpur: "Reiterated Their Common Resolve To Contribute to the Maintenance of Regional and Global Peace and Security, Prosperity and Progress"
We reiterate our common resolve to realize an East Asian community as a long-term goal that would contribute to the maintenance of regional and global peace, security, prosperity and progress," said the statement, titled the Kuala Lumpur Declaration. On the occasion of the 9th ASEAN+ Three Summit on Dec. 12, 2005, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, the 13 leaders discussed wide-ranging issues, including a proposed regional free trade bloc, the growing economic might of China and India, measures to cope with bird flu and terrorism and the Myanmar junta's refusal to revive democracy. The heads of state/government of the member countries of the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) plus Three (the People's Republic of China, Japan, and the Republic of Korea) reaffirmed the need for a peaceful, stable and prosperous East Asian regional environment through mutual solidarity and concerted efforts. According to the statement, the leaders further reaffirmed their commitment to the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia and other universally recognized principles of international law which will serve as the basis of norms governing state-to-state relations. They reiterated their common resolve to realize an East Asian community as a long-term goal that would contribute to the maintenance of regional and global peace and security, prosperity and progress. They agreed that the ASEAN+Three Summit process will continue to be the main vehicle in achieving that goal, with ASEAN as the driving force and with the active participation of the ASEAN+Three Summit countries in order to promote a sense of shared ownership. The leaders recognized the importance of ASEAN integration and the ASEAN community towards community building in the region and the continued support of the plus three countries for ASEAN's efforts. Further, they recognized the important role played by the ASEAN plus one processes to the overall cooperation within the ASEAN+Three framework. They concurred that the growing interactions among the ASEAN+Three countries will help promote greater dialogue and collective efforts to both harness opportunities and meet the challenges posed by a fast-changing and increasingly globalized world. The leaders acknowledged with satisfaction the steady progress achieved to date in the ASEAN+Three cooperation in all areas has brought about mutual benefits and closer linkages, thus contributing to the community building of East Asia. By encouraging the progress in the implementation from the short to longterm measures proposed in the East Asia Study Group (EASG) Final Report, which they endorsed in November 2002 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, the leaders welcomed the convening of the First EAS in Kuala Lumpur on Dec. 14, 2005. In the joint statement issued after the two-hour summit, the 13 leaders said that they would make joint efforts to consolidate existing cooperation and to set forth the future direction for cooperation and building of the East Asia community. "We will speed up the implementation of the short-term, and medium and long-term measures of the East Asia Study Group Final Report," they said in the declaration. "We will continue to support ASEAN integration, particularly in narrowing the development gap in order to realize the ASEAN Community and at the same time contribute to the building of an East Asian community as the longterm goal." "We will conduct regular exchange of intellectuals, members of think tanks, religious personalities and scholars, which will benefit East Asia and the world through deeper knowledge and understanding so as to fight intolerance and improve understanding among cultures and civilizations," it said. S outh Korea and nine Southeast Asian nations reached an agreement on the "modality" for freeing their goods, a core part of a free trade agreement (FTA), leaving out Thailand for the time being. Signed by trade ministers of South Korea and all the ASEAN members except Thailand, the accord is to free up trade in goods by 2010 and create a market of 548 million people with a combined economy of more than US$1.4 trillion. A guideline for the South Korea- ASEAN FTA, which the two sides seek to conclude by the end of next year, the modality specifies how the goods should be traded and how the tariffs would be phased out, according to the officials. "The two sides agreed on a high level of liberalization," the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said in a press release. "It will free up to 97% of all items and goods, while tariffs for 90% of all goods will be eliminated by 2010 in principle."
South Korea on Dec. 13, 2005, signed a pact on free trade with the 10- member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the world's largest free trade area and a regional community. South Korea's trade with 10 ASEAN member states reached US$46.4 billion in 2004, the fifth-largest amount after China, the United States, Japan and the European Union. Comprising various domains for goods, services, investment and trade dispute settlement, the agreement will likely expedite the nation's fourth FTA, following those with Chile, Singapore and the European Free Trade Association.
Leaders of the 16 nations, including South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun, gathered for the East Asia Summit (EAS), designed for informal discussions on international political and economic issues, and ways to promote cooperation in the region. One of the long-term cooperation projects proposed by the East Asia Study Group (EASG) initiated at South Korea's suggestion about a year ago, the EAS is attended by the 10 members of the ASEAN, South Korea, China and Japan as well as Australia, New Zealand and India. In a joint declaration issued at the end of the ASEAN+Three Summit, the 10 Southeast and three Northeast Asian nations reiterated their "common resolve to realize an East Asian community as a long-term goal" for regional and global peace, security and prosperity. In a press briefing, South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon said that the EAS would be held annually, while Russia will attend as an observer. "There has been a lot of talk about how often the EAS should be held during the meeting, and they agreed to hold it every year in connection with the ASEAN Summit," Ban told reporters. On December 14, the 16 countries's leaders inaugurated the new forum in ambitious efforts to chart a pan-Asian community - a distant goal given rivalries festering among powers such as China and Japan. "It was very historic," Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo told reporters after the three and half an hour-summit, noting that the grouping represents half the world's population and a third of its trade and income. "The combined political will can do much to address issues that are of great interest to the region," she said. During the ASEAN+Three Summit, President Roh proposed an information technology (IT) project for co-prosperity in East Asia, with South Korea playing a leading role for the "informationization" of Southeast Asian nations. Roh also sought their support for Seoul's efforts to peacefully settle the three-year international dispute over North Korea's nuclear threat.