South Korea a.k.a Republic of Korea (ROK) have hosted the commemorative summit of its 30th anniversary of partnership with ASEAN in Busan, South Korea. With the exception of Cambodian Prime Minister who had to cancelled at last minute due to personal reasons, the remaining head of states of all the nine countries attended the commemorative summit in South Korea.
Themed as ‘mutual cooperation for peace and co-prosperity’, the summit acknowledged how ROK and ASEAN countries weathered the financial crisis of the 1990s and came out as much stronger economies. The relationship, which is said to have began as the comprehensive cooperation, have now turned into strategic partnership for common prosperity.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in have coined the term for this strategic partnership between ROK and ASEAN as the the ‘New Southern Policy’ to also focus Korea’s diplomacy beyond the traditional four powers i.e United States, China, Japan and Russia.
With the ongoing US-China trade war, South Korea have been increasingly lobbying for more robust ROK-ASEAN relationship that would include business opportunities, cooperation in defence, water management, science and technology, infrastructure development and people to people exchanges.
Both the sides released a joint statement after the summit and have agreed to their “commitment to support for the enhancement of trade and investment and the resistance to all forms of protectionism in order to improve regional development and prosperity.”
In 2020, ASEAN along with South Korea celebrates its 30th anniversary of partnership with ASEAN and other members is expected to sign the Regional Comprehensive Economic Parnership (RCEP) that is aimed at bringing in “modern, comprehensive, high quality and mutually beneficial” trade arrangement.
In November 1989, Republic of Korea (ROK) and ASEAN had initiated sectoral dialogue relations and ROK was accorded a full Dialogue Partner status by ASEAN in July 1991 and was then elevated to a Summit level in 1997 in Kuala Lumpur.