President Kim Dae-jung, accompanied by First Lady Lee Hee-ho, is to leave for the Philippines on November 27 for a four-day state visit and attendance at the ASEAN-Plus-Three Summit. The ASEAN-Plus-Three (Association of South East Asian Nations Plus Korea, China and Japan) is to be held in Manila, the Philippines, too.
During the November 27-28 ASEAN-Plus-Three, President Kim is expected to propose and discuss ways to strengthen cooperative ties between Korea and the ASEAN members for the coming century. Particularly, he hopes to discuss economic and financial collaboration among the countries of the region. The Korean Head of State is also scheduled to meet individually with several heads of state participating in the annual regional summit.
At his meeting with President Joseph Ejercito Estrada that will follow the ASEAN Summit, President Kim hopes to map out a long-range blueprint for substantial bilateral cooperation. In this 50th anniversary year of the Korea-Philippines diplomatic relationship, President Kim is returning President Estrada's state visit to Seoul that took place in June.
In October 1966, President Park Chung Hee visited the Philippines, followed by President Chun Doo Hwan in July 1981. Philippines President Fidel Ramos visited Korea in May 1993. Korean President Kim Young Sam visited the Philippines in November 1994, and again in November 1996 to attend the APEC leaders meeting. Korean Prime Minister Lee Soo-sung visited Manila in June 1998 as a presidential envoy to attend the 100th anniversary of the independence of the Philippines. In June 1999, Philippine President and Mrs. Joseph Estrada visited Korea. In November 1999, President Kim Dae-jung will visit the Philippines.
Significance of the ASEAN Plus Korea, China and Japan Summit
ASEAN is the only multi-national Southeast Asian consultative body established to promote the stability and prosperity of the region. The 10- member ASEAN started to hold summit meetings annually in 1995 and has invited Korea, China and Japan to participate since 1997 as equal partners.
Southeast Asia is essential to the interests of Korea politically, economically and security-wise. Furthermore, the influence of ASEAN is increasing through the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM), the ASEAN Post-Ministerial Conference (PMC) and other regional and international organizations. President Kim's visit to the ASEAN Summit will be a good chance for him to associate personally with leaders in the region and substantially strengthen the already friendly bilateral and multilateral ties with them.
During the Manila conference, the regional leaders are to put their heads together and exchange their visions and plans for common prosperity in the coming century. Economic cooperation, particularly in times of major crises, is the priority issue to be tackled at the meeting.
Southeast Asia has been one of the most important economic partners of Korea in that the Republic has reaped great benefits in the region in the form of trade, investment and construction contracts in recent decades. The region still has enormous potential for growth in the years to come.
By economic blocs, ASEAN is Korea's fourth largest trading partner providing the second most positive balance of payment. It is the second most important construction market and the third biggest target for Korean investment. In the two-way trade during 1998, Korea exported US$15.3 billion in goods and services to the region and imported US$9.1 billion worth. Korea's construction receipts in 1998 were US$9 billion, making the grand total in recent decades over US$29.5 billion. Korean investment in the region during the past several decades aggregates to US$5.8 billion.
The ASEAN meeting will also be a good opportunity for the Korean Government to voice its positions on security matters involving Northeast as well as Southeast Asia and help establish a close cooperative system for peace in Asia.
Significance and Expected Results of President Kim's State Visit to the Philippines
At the planned Korea-Philippines Summit, Korea hopes to further promote bilateral trade and other exchanges. While offering to share its experience in overcoming the recent economic crisis, Korea wants to have the solid backing of the Philippine Government for Seoul's North Korea policies geared at bringing about permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula through gradual engagement with Pyeongyang. The leaders of the two countries hope to deepen their friendship in the common quest for the simultaneous development of democracy and a market economy.
Based on their shared belief in democracy and a market economy, Presidents Kim and Estrada will be able to reach agreement in all areas of bilateral issues. President Kim hopes to review the implementation of the follow-up measures to the June Korea-Philippine Summit and delve into problem areas, if there are any. He feels that effective steps should be taken to assure accelerated mutual collaboration, especially in the area of anticipated crisis management now that the two economies are making a turn-around.
Korea and the Philippines are expected reach a consensus that they have a lot to gain by coordinating their efforts closely in the international arena, including ASEAN, ASEM, APEC and ARF. Korea is to host the 2000 ASEM and the first Seoul Forum, an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum policy dialogue on ways to prevent another economic crisis.