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ASEAN Plus Three Cooperation


Since the process began in 1997, the ASEAN Plus Three (APT) (China, Japan and the Republic of Korea) cooperation has broadened and deepened in many areas of cooperation. Cooperation is now being pursued in 20 areas, covering political and security, transnational crime, economic, finance and monetary, agriculture and forestry, energy, minerals, tourism, health, labour, culture and arts, environment, science and technology, information and communication technology, social welfare, rural development and poverty eradication, disaster management, youth, women, and other tracks. There are 57 bodies (1 Summit, 14 ministerial, 19 Senior Officials, 2 Directors-General, 18 technical level meetings and 2 other tracks meetings) coordinating APT cooperation.

Political-Security Cooperation

At the 9th APT Summit in December 2005 in Kuala Lumpur, the Leaders of APT countries signed the Kuala Lumpur Declaration on the APT Summit and agreed to continue holding the APT Summit annually in conjunction with the ASEAN Summit. The 9th in 2005 Summit and 10th APT Summit in 2006 reaffirmed that the APT process will continue to be the main vehicle in achieving the goal of East Asia community, with ASEAN as the driving force, and with the active participation of the Plus Three countries, in order to promote shared ownership. The 11th APT Summit in November 2007 in Singapore adopted the Second Joint Statement on East Asia Cooperation and the ASEAN Plus Three Cooperation Work Plan (2007-2017). The Second Joint Statement reviewed a decade of accomplishments, identified opportunities and challenges, and provided strategic guidance for the future direction of APT cooperation. The APT countries reiterated that APT cooperation would continue to support ASEAN integration with the objective to realise the ASEAN Community, and play a key role in regional community building efforts for the long-term goal of realising an East Asia community with ASEAN as the driving force. The 11th APT Summit endorsed the proposal to establish an ASEAN Plus Three Cooperation Fund to facilitate the implementation of the APT Cooperation Work Plan. The 9th APT Foreign Ministers Meeting in July 2008 in Singapore endorsed the TOR and launched the APT Cooperation Fund. APT cooperation on transnational crime and counterterrorism is undertaken through the APT Ministerial Meeting on Transnational Crime (AMMTC+3) and the APT Senior Officials Meeting on Transnational Crime (SOMTC+3). The first AMMTC+3 in January 2004 in Bangkok endorsed the concept plan to cooperate in eight areas, covering terrorism, illicit drug trafficking, trafficking in persons, money laundering, arms smuggling, sea piracy, international economic crime and cyber crime. Subsequently, an APT Work Plan to Combat Transnational Crime was developed and endorsed by the APT countries for implementation.

Economic Cooperation

In finance and monetary cooperation, progress has been steady and continued to focus on the implementation of the Chiang Mai Initiative (CMI) and the Asian Bond Market Initiative (ABMI). The Special APT Finance Ministers’ Meeting held in Phuket, Thailand in February 2009 agreed to the following key elements: to increase the size of the Chiang Mai Initiative Multilateralisation (CMIM) from US$ 80 billion to US$ 120 billion and to develop a more robust and effective surveillance mechanism to support the operation of the CMIM. The 12th APT Finance Ministers’ Meeting in May 2009 in Bali reached an agreement on all the main components of the CMIM, including the individual country’s contribution, borrowing accessibility, and the surveillance mechanism. The Ministers agreed to implement the CMIM before the end of 2009, and tasked the Deputies to work out the operations details and implementation plan. The 12th APT Finance Ministers endorsed the establishment of the Credit Guarantee and Investment Mechanism (CGIM) as a trust fund of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) with an initial capital of US$ 500 million which could be increased once the demand is fully met. The objective of CGIM is to support the issuance of local currency-denominated corporate bonds in the region. In order to strengthen the regional cooperation to respond effectively to the global economic and financial crisis, Thailand as the ASEAN Chair and the APT Coordinator issued the Joint Press Statement on APT Cooperation in Response to the Global Economic and Financial Crisis on behalf of the APT Leaders in June 2009. Total ASEAN exports to the Plus Three countries increased from US$ 192.5 billion in 2007 to US$ 225.4 billion in 2008 registering a 17.1% growth. This growth is faster than that in 2007 when ASEAN exports to these countries grew by only 10.9%. ASEAN imports of goods from the same countries continued to accelerate with a 19.5% growth in 2008, from 15.7% in 2007. Total ASEAN imports from these countries stood at US$ 254.7 billion, up from US$ 213.1 billion in 2007.  Total ASEAN trade with the Plus Three Countries remained robust despite the global economic slowdown. Trade with these countries reached US$ 480.1 billion in 2008, up by 18.4% compared to US$ 405.5 billion reported in 2007 registering a 28.1% share of total ASEAN trade. On the other hand, there is a decrease in foreign direct investments (FDIs) from the Plus Three countries, from US$ 12.7 billion in 2007 to US$ 10.3 billion in 2008. Cumulative FDIs from the Plus Three countries during the period 2006-2008 were valued at US$ 35.5 billion comprising 19.3% of total FDI inflows to ASEAN in the same period.  ASEAN Member States negotiate FTAs or Comprehensive Economic Partnership (CEP) with all Plus Three countries. All FTAs/CEP cover trade in goods, trade in services, investment, and other areas of economic cooperation. Timeline for the establishment of FTA in goods between ASEAN and China: 2010 for ASEAN-6 (Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand) and China, and 2015 for Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Viet Nam (CLMV). The Agreements on Trade in Goods and Dispute Settlement Mechanism between ASEAN and China were signed in November 2004 in Vientiane. The Agreement on Trade in Goods is being implemented since July 2005. The Agreement on Trade in Services was signed at the sidelines of the 10th ASEAN-China Summit in January 2007 in Cebu and entered into force on 1 July 2007. Negotiations on the Investment Agreement have been completed and the Agreement was signed in August 2009 in Bangkok, Thailand. ASEAN and Japan completed signing of the ASEAN-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership (AJCEP) in April 2008. The AJCEP Agreement is comprehensive in scope, covering trade in goods, trade in services, investment and economic cooperation. The AJCEP would strengthen the economic ties between ASEAN and Japan and would create a larger and more efficient market with greater opportunities in this region. Lao PDR, Myanmar, Singapore, Viet Nam and Japan have been implementing the Agreement since 1 December 2008, while Brunei Darussalam and Malaysia since 1 January and 1 February 2009, respectively. ASEAN and ROK agreed on the timeline for their FTA as follows: 2008 for ROK (with flexibility to 2010), 2010 for ASEAN-6 (with flexibility to 2012), 2016 for Viet Nam and 2018 for CLM. The Framework Agreement on Comprehensive Economic Cooperation and Agreement on Dispute Settlement Mechanism between ASEAN and ROK were signed in December 2005 in Kuala Lumpur. The Agreement on Trade in Goods with ROK was signed by nine ASEAN Member States and ROK in August 2006 in Kuala Lumpur. The Trade in Goods Agreement is being implemented since 1 June 2007. The Trade in Services Agreement was signed by also nine ASEAN Member States and ROK at the sidelines of 11th ASEAN-ROK Summit in November 2007 in Singapore. Thailand signed the Protocols on the accession to the Trade in Goods and Trade in Services Agreements at the sidelines of the 14th ASEAN Summit on in February 2009 in Cham-am/Hua Hin, Thailand. The Trade in Services Agreement entered into force on 1 May 2009. The ASEAN-ROK Investment Agreement was signed in June 2009 at the sidelines of the ASEAN-ROK Commemorative Summit in Jeju Island, ROK. The East Asian FTA (EAFTA) Study: Phase II has been finalised by the Experts Group. The final report will be submitted to the 12th ASEAN Plus Three Summit in October 2009 in Thailand. The Study, which conducts an in-depth sector-by-sector analysis and related researches in trade facilitation and rules of origin of the proposed EAFTA, aims to examine the key elements of market access for goods, services and investment as well as trade facilitation cooperation with a view to identifying some possible options for such an FTA. The APT Energy Ministers called for greater cooperation and integration to address the challenges faced by the region. The APT countries stressed the importance of appropriate regional actions to build a secure, stable, safe and sustainable energy future. Amidst the growing challenges, APT cooperation on energy sector has been strengthened in the present five fora – energy security, oil market, oil stockpiling, natural gas, and new renewable energy and energy efficiency and conservation. The APT Tourism Ministers shared a common view to strengthen tourism cooperation among APT countries to effectively deal with the challenges, in anticipating the impact of global financial crisis to tourism. An initiative on health tourism has also been conducted to enhance collaboration and communication between health and tourism sectors and promote health and safety of travellers and host communities in the APT countries. APT countries agreed to further strengthen food security under the APT cooperation. Food security is seen as a key factor for sustained economic and social development in the region while each country attempts to maximise the use of its own potential resources and achieve greater agricultural production. The APT Ministers on Agriculture and Food Cooperation agreed to strengthen and accelerate the implementation of the East Asia Emergency Rice Reserve (EAERR) Pilot Project activities, which is designed to respond to the humanitarian needs for such emergencies due to disasters. The Ministers agreed to extend the EAERR Pilot Project for one more year until 28 February 2010.

Socio-Cultural Cooperation

On the health sector, the APT Emerging Infectious Diseases (EID) Programme aims to enhance regional preparedness and capacity through integrated approaches to prevention, surveillance and timely response to emerging infectious diseases, including SARS, avian and pandemic influenza. To respond to the outbreak of Influenza A(H1N1), the APT Health Ministers recognised the urgency of taking concrete actions in preventing and controlling the Influenza A(H1N1), the Ministers committed a number of actions at national level and also fostering collaboration at the regional level, among others, by ensuring sufficient and prompt sharing of data and information on epidemic situation. In social welfare and development, APT cooperation is focused on the following priority areas: promoting a community of caring societies in East Asia, developing policies and programmes addressing the growing trends of ageing societies, promoting community-based approaches for delivering care and social services to the elderly and the disabled, and giving attention to human resource development in the social sector. APT environmental cooperation is focused in the following specific areas such as biodiversity, climate change, environmental education, water resources management, promotion of environmentally sound technology and cleaner production, and solid waste and hazardous waste management.

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