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Security, integration top ASEAN dialogue concerns

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Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, in his opening remarks durin
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe delivers opening remarks during the 20th Association of Southeast Asia Nations (ASEAN) Plus Three (APT) Commemorative Summit at the Philippine International Convention Center on Nov. 14, 2017. -- PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

ASEAN 50 logoTHE FOLLOWING are the outcomes of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) dialogues with its global partners at the 31st ASEAN Summit:

HONG KONG: Signed the  ASEAN-Hong Kong Free Trade Agreement (AHKFTA) and the ASEAN-Hong Kong Investment Agreement (AHKIA). The two agreements are part of the region’s effort to expand trade opportunities for the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC). Host country the Philippines said the agreements provide more opportunities for micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) as well as to the country’s exporters.

CHINA: The ASEAN-China dialogue produced joint statements on anti-corruption cooperation, tourism cooperation, and infrastructure connectivity. Both sides also agreed to proceed with negotiations for a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea after concluding a Framework Agreement on a Code of Conduct.

UNITED STATES: President Donald J. Trump highlighted Washington’s  commitment to partnership with ASEAN, which he called a vehicle for advancing the security and prosperity of the US and the Indo-Pacific nations.

SOUTH KOREA: The ASEAN-South Korea meeting produced a report on the progress of the implementation of the ASEAN-Republic of Korea Plan of Action to implement the joint declaration on strategic partnership for peace and prosperity (2016-2020). ASEAN leaders expressed a desire for further trade, including liberalization between ASEAN and South Korea.

The two sides also expressed grave concern over the latest developments on the Korean peninsula and called for peaceful denuclearization and the early resumption of six-party talks.

JAPAN: Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed a desire to deepen cooperation with the ASEAN in maritime security, defense, trade, infrastructure development, fighting terrorism, disaster risk reduction and cultural exchanges. Mr. Abe pledged to support ASEAN in upgrading the quality of its infrastructure, industry, and human resources.

Japan will also continue to expedite the Yen Loan Project, and it expressed a desire for the early conclusion of a Japan-ASEAN Technical Cooperation Agreement agreed upon at the Japan-ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in August. Japan committed to provide ¥55 billion in the next three years for the purpose of enhancing maritime law enforcement capacity.

EUROPEAN UNION: The European Union (EU) offered anti-terror cooperation through information sharing via Interpol and Europol and the exchange of best practices in dealing with violent extremism.

In June, ASEAN representatives visited the headquarters of the EU’s anti-smuggling naval mission, Operation Sophia, which targets people smugglers and trafficking networks in the Mediterranean. The EU expressed willingness to share its expertise in fighting piracy, illegal and unregulated fishing or any other type of transnational criminality at sea.

ASEAN PLUS THREE (APT): ASEAN reaffirmed its intent to further cooperation with Japan, South Korea, and China during their 20th commemorative summit on Tuesday, Nov. 14. President Rodrigo R. Duterte, chairman of the 31st ASEAN Summit, urged his fellow ASEAN leaders and three dialogue partners to continue nurturing peaceful co-existence within the region.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe meanwhile underscored the significance of increased financial cooperation within the ASEAN Plus Three.

Mr. Abe said financial cooperation will enhance predictability and mitigate vulnerabilities in regional markets, and strengthen free trade.

Mr. Abe also backed APT cooperation on Food Security which was proposed by China, and adopted during the summit.

“Incidentally, it has been over six years since the Great Eastern Japan earthquake. I strongly request that input controls on Japanese food stuffs be lifted based on scientific grounds,” Mr. Abe added.

Japanese food exports such as milk, fruit and vegetables have been banned in some countries due to concerns these products may have been contaminated by radiation from the Fukushima nuclear power plant

Premier Li Keqiang said Beijing supports regional integration and the advancement of the East Asia Economic Community, noting that the world economy is still recovering from the 2007-2008 financial crisis and global trade and investment has been growing.

“China-Japan and China-ROK relations are [also] seeing signs of improvement. All these have presented new opportunities for APT Cooperation,” he added.

“I hope that through this Summit, we can build consensus and send a positive signal that we firmly support regional integration and advance East Asia Economic Community or EAEC so as to benefit the people and the country in the region.”

President Moon Jae-in said the collective experience of the region in overcoming financial crises “remains a valuable heritage to us. Now, we must take ourselves to a new level to realize a cooperative mechanism that provides protection and care to the lives of our members in the region.”

“In 1999, we have utilized the power of solidarity and overcame the financial crisis. Let us create a vision for the East Asian community of peace, prosperity, and progress. I look forward to reaffirming refining the visions of the East Asian community and our resolve for cooperation within,” Mr. Moon said.

CANADA: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed his intent to broaden his country’s partnership with the ASEAN in charting a path towards sustainable development and prosperity, noting that ASEAN has been instrumental to the liberalization of trade and the establishment of fair, rules-based international systems for the past 50 years. Canada plans to join the East Asia Summit and the ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting Plus “at the earliest opportunity.”

Canada likewise committed to help ASEAN in achieving safer and more secure communities by addressing humanitarian issues and regional tensions, citing its interventions in addressing the plight of the Muslim minority in Myanmar as well as its stance against the North Korean missile tests.

UNITED NATIONS: The UN said it supports measures to counter terrorism and prevent violent extremism, and proposed a dedicated UN Office of Counter-Terrorism. It welcomed the adoption of the Manila Declaration to Counter the Rise of Radicalization and Violent Extremism, and its recognition of the importance of comprehensive approaches and preventive action. It also highlighted its readiness and willingness to provide technical support to ASEAN and its member countries in their efforts to counter terrorism and violent extremism, and to combat transnational crime, including drug trafficking and people trafficking, through policies able to protect their citizens with effective law enforcement and respect for human rights.

INDIA: India expressed its support for improving ASEAN’s rules-based regional security architecture, which it linked to the region’s peaceful development. India urged ASEAN and its partners to jointly address security challenges in the region by intensifying cooperation. — Arjay L. Balinbin, Andrea Louise E. San Juan and Anna Gabriela A. Mogato

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