Bangkok, Thailand - The Republic of Korea and the United States are working together to create a safe, prosperous, and dynamic future for the Indo-Pacific region through cooperation between the Republic of Korea’s New Southern Policy and the United States’ Indo-Pacific Strategy based on the principles of openness, inclusiveness, transparency, respect for international norms, and ASEAN centrality. We are contributing to this effort by promoting prosperity through cooperation on energy, infrastructure and development finance, and the digital economy (“Prosperity”); investing in human capital through civil society capacity building, good governance programming, and development of people-to-people ties (“People”); and by promoting peace and security through capacity building in water management, maritime security, response to climate change, and health care (“Peace”).
PROSPERITY THROUGH ENERGY
- Through existing bilateral mechanisms – such as the Senior Economic Dialogue, the ROK-U.S. Joint Public-Private Economic Forum, and the ROK-U.S. Commercial Dialogue – our two countries are cooperating to support energy sector development in the region, including the deployment of renewable energy and the expansion of liquefied natural gas (LNG) infrastructure.
- Through these dialogue mechanisms, as well as the 6th ROK-U.S. Energy Security Dialogue on June 1, 2019 and the Joint ROK-U.S. Roundtable on Indo-Pacific Cooperation in Energy, Infrastructure, Connectivity, and Smart Cities on October 2, 2019, the Republic of Korea and the United States are identifying prospective joint projects that align with the goals of the Republic of Korea’s New Southern Policy and the United States’ Asia EDGE (Enhancing Development and Growth through Energy) initiative.
- For example, in support of Asia EDGE, USAID signed an agreement with the Asian Development Bank to mobilize up to $7 billion in investment to help reform and expand the Indo-Pacific region’s energy sector to meet dramatically increasing demand. Ongoing ROK renewable energy capacity building project for four Pacific Island countries across Melanesia supports these efforts.
PROSPERITY THROUGH INFRASTRUCTURE AND DEVELOPMENT FINANCE
- Infrastructure Finance Cooperation: On October 17, the ROK Ministry of Economy and Finance (MOEF) and the U.S. Department of Treasury signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to Strengthen Infrastructure Finance and Market Building Cooperation, which seeks to further bilateral cooperation in support of infrastructure development throughout the Indo-Pacific region through market-oriented, private sector investment.
- Promoting Private Sector Investment: The two countries are deepening ties between our development finance institutions to catalyze investment and growth. The Republic of Korea’s Overseas Infrastructure and Urban Development Corporation (KIND) and the S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) committed to further collaboration in the Indo-Pacific region and will formalize this cooperation through the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding.
- Smart Cities: In coordination with the ASEAN Smart Cities Network and the U.S.-ASEAN Smart Cities Partnership, the Republic of Korea is committed to contributing to the establishment of smart cities in the region, including the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) flagship project in Tam Ki city, Quang Nam Province in Vietnam.
PROSPERITY THROUGH THE DIGITAL ECONOMY
- The Republic of Korea is cooperating with the United States in providing digital economy-related capacity building and technical support to Indo-Pacific countries, including the Pacific Islands.
- To help ASEAN economies better prepare for the 5G era, the Republic of Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and theS. Department of State worked in partnership with the private sector to provide joint training for ASEAN member countries and other Indo-Pacific partners on the policy frameworks required to support 5G deployment in May 2019.
- The Republic of Korea and the United States coordinates with other like-minded partners to build cyber capacity. This includes helping countries develop cyber strategies, policies, and legal frameworks; enhancing incident response and cyber defense capabilities; improving financial sector cybersecurity to protect Indo-Pacific economies; countering the use of the internet for terrorism; increasing cybersecurity awareness in both the public and private sectors; and promoting rule of law, privacy, internet freedom, and responsible governance frameworks when considering cybersecurity needs. For instance, the Republic of Korea and the United States have partnered with Singapore as members of the International Programme Committee at the ASEAN-Singapore Cybersecurity Center of Excellence.
PEOPLE: GOOD GOVERNANCE, AND CIVIL SOCIETY
- Both the Republic of Korea and the United States invest significantly in the people of South and Southeast Asia, both in terms of development assistance and private sector-led investments. For instance, the Republic of Korea provides annual contribution of $14 million per year under the ASEAN-ROK Cooperation Fund, funding human resource development and academic and cultural exchanges. The United States announced the Indo-Pacific Transparency Initiative in 2018 to promote civil society, the rule of law, and transparent and accountable governments across the region as part of the governance pillar of our vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific.
- To bring together our respective expertise and deepen existing cooperation, on September 30, the Republic of Korea Ministry of Foreign Affairs and USAID signed a Memorandum of Understanding prioritizing the expansion of collaboration and coordination in the field of development, in consideration of the Republic of Korea’s New Southern Policy and the United States’ Indo-Pacific Strategy. The Memorandum of Understanding showcases democratic, shared values, and a commitment to supporting governments, civil society, and the private sector in countries on their Journey to Self-Reliance. The Memorandum of Understanding strengthens cooperation in areas such as women’s empowerment, digital economy, youth, health, and the education sectors.
- Ongoing KOICA-USAID cooperation prioritizes the strengthening and promotion of democratic and responsive governments. In support of Indonesia, KOICA and USAID are working with the Government of Indonesia in support of its National Integrated Complaint Handling system (LAPOR-SP4N!). Alongside USAID’s complementary anti-corruption programs, KOICA’s $5 million contribution covering its 2019-2023 investment in LAPOR will help combat government corruption and support a more responsive and accountable government by providing a transparent way to process complaints from the federal level down to the municipal local level.
- Another ROK-S. partnership works to strengthen natural resource management through supporting the Plastics Up-Cycling Alliance in East Timor, with private sector partners Caltech and Heineken to create a recycling system for plastic waste capable of the sustainable removal of up to 20 percent of the 12.5 million kg of plastic waste produced annually in Dili. This Plastics Up-Cycling Alliance expects to create much needed new enterprises and ‘green collar’ job opportunities.
- One of many examples of the Republic of Korea and the United States investing in people includes our work to promote women’s empowerment. The cooperation leverages the Providing Opportunities for Women’s Economic Rise (POWER) initiative, which supports the goals of the W-GDP, to coordinate consultations with U.S. and ROK private sector entities to elevate the issue at corporate levels and build strategic partnerships with the public sector.
ENSURING PEACE AND SECURITY
- Contributing to regional peace and stability is a shared goal of the Republic of Korea’s New Southern Policy and the United States’ Indo-Pacific Strategy. The peace pillar of the former and the security pillar of the latter reflect the importance attached to the goal. To that end, both the Republic of Korea and the United States are strengthening and expanding cooperation to support people in the region to overcome diverse non-traditional security challenges. For instance, we are building capacity to counter transnational crimes; respond to natural disasters; and protect the environment.
- Water Management: The Republic of Korea and the United States share a commitment to improving water resource management in the Mekong region to improve mitigation of floods and droughts. Both countries support sustainable water management projects through bilateral development assistance, including through the Mekong-ROK Cooperation Fund and the U.S.-supported Lower Mekong Initiative. Together, the Republic of Korea and the United States are training Mekong country government officials on utilization of data to improve water resources management for disaster risk reduction. For instance, the ROK Ministry of Foreign Affairs and K-water (Korea Water Resources Corporation) are working with the S. Department of State, NASA, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and implementing partners to design new tools as well as training and capacity building exercises for secure data sharing to allow for better risk reduction for floods and droughts. To extend these efforts, the Republic of Korea and the Mekong countries are planning to sign an MOU on Mekong-ROK Water Resources Management and announce the opening of a Joint Research Center on the occasion of the 1st Mekong-ROK Summit, which will be held on 27 November in the Republic of Korea. The United States will invite the Republic of Korea and other international partners to the Indo-Pacific Conference on Strengthening Governance of Transboundary Rivers in Bangkok in February 2020.
- The Republic of Korea provides significant humanitarian and development assistance. In 2018, the Republic of Korea provided USD $17.6 million in humanitarian assistance towards emergency situations and resilience/capacity building activities in Indo-Pacific countries.
- Pacific Island Countries: In order to contribute to the efforts of the Pacific Island countries to achieve sustainable development, the Republic of Korea and the United States are taking steps to increase coordination of development assistance and training programs. This cooperation prioritizes capacity building in maritime affairs; management of fisheries, trade, and tourism; and development of harbor facilities in the region. The Republic of Korea is continuing provision of assistance in areas such as climate change and towards the World Fisheries University and will endeavor to increase overall development assistance to Pacific Island nations.
- As part of efforts to build resiliency to natural disasters in the Pacific Islands, the Republic of Korea committed $1.8 million to a ROK-Pacific Islands Climate Prediction Service Project, concluding in 2020. It will support the production and use of more user-friendly programs based on the 2017 Pacific Island countries Customized Climate Prediction Information System (PICASO) that the Republic of Korea supported.
- KOICA is funding climate change response and health care capacity building projects in Fiji, Tuvalu and Kiribati. USAID is complementing these efforts by helping Pacific Island nations attain accreditation and secure climate financing from third party funds such as the Green Climate Fund and the Resilience Fund.
- To increase transparency and strengthen law enforcement capacity in Vietnam and Pacific Island countries, the Republic of Korea committed to the completion of the Real-time Remote Sensing Surveillance System for the Control of IUU Fishing and Marine Pollution Activities.
- In the maritime realm, the Republic of Korea and the United States are coordinating capacity building efforts with partner maritime law enforcement agencies in the Philippines, Indonesia, and Malaysia.
- The U.S. Transportation Security Administration and the Republic of Korea Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport (MOLIT) have cooperated on an aviation security capacity building initiative in Vietnam with plans for similar initiatives in the Philippines.
- The Republic of Korea and the United States are cooperating to strengthen the capacity of the Indo-Pacific to prevent, detect and respond to global health threats. In line with the shared goal, the Republic of Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the United States’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention signed an MOU in Korea October 21, 2019, which is expected to contribute to promoting collaboration throughout Indo-Pacific countries in the field of disease control and prevention. The ROK and the United States also held a symposium in Korea in August 2019 on global health security, including capacity building in Cambodia and health security over the next five years.
- In the Pacific Islands, the Republic of Korea and the United States are also working with their respective health agencies to implement capacity building projects aimed at reducing antimicrobial resistance.