The text of the following fact sheet was released by the Governments of the United States of America and the Republic of Korea following bilateral consultations on the margins of the 2020 East Asia Summit.
As allies whose relationship is grounded in our shared values, the Republic of Korea (ROK) and the United States of America continue to work together to create a safe, prosperous, and dynamic 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.
Our cooperation is comprehensive and growing. We are enhancing economic prosperity through cooperation on infrastructure, energy, the digital economy, smart cities, and natural resources management (“Prosperity”); building a people-centered community while championing good governance by investing in human resources development and anti-corruption programs, and investing in human capital by promoting women’s empowerment, and spearheading health and climate change initiatives in the Pacific Islands (“People”); and ensuring peace and security through capacity building efforts to counter transnational crimes and drug trafficking, and promoting cybersecurity, maritime security, marine environmental protection, and disaster response and preparedness (“Peace”).
On August 19, 2020, we launched the inaugural U.S.-ROK Indo-Pacific Strategy-New Southern Policy Dialogue. During the virtual working-level dialogue, the two sides jointly decided to strengthen law enforcement, cybersecurity, and Pacific Island Country cooperation. An additional dialogue on ASEAN and the Mekong region is scheduled for the end of 2020.
ENHANCING ECONOMIC PROSPERITY
The United States and the Republic of Korea recognize that market-based economic systems, private sector finance, adherence to the rule of law, and open investment environments drive the Indo-Pacific region’s prosperity. Under the next phase of the New Southern Policy, the New Southern Policy Plus, which was announced on the occasion of the 21st ASEAN-ROK Summit, the Republic of Korea will prioritize ROK-ASEAN cooperation in the fields of healthcare, education, and infrastructure to enhance pandemic preparedness and post-COVID-19 economic resilience in the region, taking into consideration priorities for cooperation from the ASEAN member states.
- Strengthening Bilateral Partnerships: The U.S. Department of State hosted the fifth U.S.-Republic of Korea (ROK) Senior Economic Dialogue (SED) in a virtual format in October 2020. During the SED, the two countries examined ways to strengthen their economic cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region in the areas of development, energy, and infrastructure.
- Development Cooperation: After signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in September 2019, the ROK Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) expanded collaboration in the development field. USAID and the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) created and began to execute a work plan for cooperation including COVID-19 response; gender equality; informational and communications technology; and the youth, health, and education sectors.
- Infrastructure: The MOU signed by the ROK Ministry of Economy and Finance (MOEF) and the U.S. Department of Treasury in October 2019 furthers bilateral cooperation in support of infrastructure development throughout the region through market-oriented, private sector investment. The first Korea-U.S. Infrastructure Finance Working Group meeting and a Private Sector Roundtable Meeting on Infrastructure Cooperation were held in February 2020 in Seoul. The U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) and the ROK Export-Import Bank regularly engage on potential joint financing opportunities in the Indo-Pacific, aiming to catalyze investment in Mekong infrastructure. The ROK and the U.S. Department of State continue to exchange views on the Blue Dot Network for quality infrastructure.
- Energy: The Department of State hosted the ROK Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) for the seventh U.S.-ROK Energy Security Dialogue in a virtual format in August 2020. Both sides decided to continue collaboration to enhance energy security in the physical and cyber domains and discussed opportunities to further deepen cooperation on energy security, including through the Energy Resource Governance Initiative.
- Digital Economy: The United States and the ROK are exploring opportunities for collaboration on Information and Communications Technology (ICT) capacity country assessments, joint training, and cybersecurity capacity building, including at the fifth U.S.-Republic of Korea ICT Policy Forum held in September 2020. The two countries are also working together to promote international collaboration for enhancing 5G security and participated in the Prague 5G Security Conference in September 2020. The two countries, along with Japan, worked to advance women’s empowerment by hosting the Summit on Women’s Leadership in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM), and working together to remove barriers to women’s participation in STEM industries.
- Smart Cities: Through the U.S.-ASEAN Smart Cities Partnership (USASCP), the United States expanded its programs in water management and reuse, Cities in Health, and transportation planning. In coordination with USASCP and the ASEAN Smart Cities Network, KOICA is supporting the development of the Smart City Valley Program in the central region of Vietnam. A Korean public health expert will speak at the USASCP-led Smart Cities Third Country Training Program Seminar for ASEAN government officials.
- Natural Resource Management: The ROK-S. partnership on the Plastics Solution Alliance in Timor-Leste brought together private sector and civil society partners to create a recycling system that supports the sustainable removal of plastic waste produced in Dili. We expect to create new enterprises and “green collar” job opportunities. In addition, under this initiative the two countries supported the construction of hand-washing stations from recycled plastic to help COVID-19 response in Timor-Leste.
INVESTING IN HUMAN CAPITAL AND CHAMPIONING GOOD GOVERNANCE
Both the Republic of Korea and the United States recognize the growing importance of enhancing well-being, livelihood, and welfare of the people and have significantly invested in the people of South and Southeast Asia, both in terms of development assistance and private sector-led investments in order to provide them the skills and resources needed to participate in the global economy and create conditions for self-reliance.
- Human Resource Development: The Republic of Korea provides an annual contribution of $14 million under the ASEAN-ROK Cooperation Fund, funding human resource development and academic and cultural exchanges. The United States, through USAID, collaborates with the ASEAN Secretariat and ASEAN member states to contribute to sustainable and inclusive growth and encourages rules-based systems to support a peaceful, secure, and prosperous region through programs such as the Inclusive Growth in ASEAN through Innovation, Trade, and E-Commerce project; and the Partnership for Regional Optimization within the Political-Security project; and ASEAN Policy Implementation project.
- Anti-Corruption: KOICA and USAID are working with the Government of Indonesia (GOI) to support its National Integrated Complaint Handling system (LAPOR-SP4N!), which allows citizens to submit complaints about public services and assists the GOI to ensure its public service expenditures translate into desired results. Alongside USAID’s complementary anti-corruption programs, KOICA’s $5 million contribution covering its 2019-2022 investment in LAPOR will help combat government corruption and provide a transparent way to process complaints from federal to local levels.
- Women’s Empowerment: The ROK and the United States endorsed an action plan outlining a shared vision for future cooperation to promote women’s economic empowerment in the ROK and throughout the region. Based on the action plan, the two countries held roundtables in December 2019 and virtually in September 2020. The ROK and the United States have joined efforts on the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi) to include small and medium enterprises owned and led by women in global and regional value chains. The two countries also work together to coordinate private and public sector consultations and build strategic partnerships through the Providing Opportunities for Women’s Economic Rise (POWER) Initiative that supports the goals of the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity (W-GDP) Initiative. The United States and ROK also joined together as part of the Core Group of UN Member States launching a new Call to Action on Women’s Economic Empowerment in October 2020. The United States and the ROK were among several other countries to co-sponsor the East Asia Summit Leaders’ Statement on Women, Peace, and Security, promoting regional high-level action on women’s meaningful participation in security and peace issues.
- Climate Change in Pacific Island Countries: KOICA is funding climate change response and health care capacity building projects in Fiji, the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu and Kiribati. USAID partners with communities, governments, and regional organizations across the Pacific to strengthen climate resilience. USAID’s Institutional Strengthening in Pacific Island Countries to Adapt to Climate Change (ISACC) boosts government capacity to develop and implement climate-related policies. Additionally, USAID’s Climate Ready has helped Pacific Island countries mobilize $54 million from various international funds.
- Health: After signing an MOU in October 2019, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA), formerly the Korea Center for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC), which was promoted to an independent agency and renamed in September 2020, and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have improved regional coordination of infectious disease control and prevention. In June 2020, through a technical teleconference, experts shared information on COVID-19 reinfection cases and discharge criteria for patients impacted by the virus. KOICA, KDCA, USAID, and the U.S. CDC supported the implementation of a Roadmap for the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) in Cambodia and are now collaborating with the Cambodian Ministry of Health on a new project designed to improve public health surveillance, laboratory systems, and the emergency response system.
- COVID-19: The ROK provided $5.2 million in humanitarian assistance to support 12 ASEAN and Pacific Island countries in their response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, under the COVID-19 Comprehensive Rapid Response Program, the ROK came up with an assistance package worth $10 million, designed to strengthen the capacity of partner countries to respond to epidemics. This program was implemented in Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, the Philippines, and Vietnam. The ROK contributed $1 million to the COVID-19 ASEAN Response Fund and is providing ASEAN countries PCR equipment, diagnostic kits, and personal protective equipment, utilizing the ASEAN-ROK Cooperation Fund. To date, the U.S. government has provided more than $130 million in funding to support the COVID-19 response in Pacific Island countries. This includes a $5 million contribution from USAID across the 12 Pacific Island countries to strengthen civil society capacity to address critical non-health impacts of COVID-19 by protecting the rights of vulnerable and marginalized groups, combatting disinformation and hate speech, and providing grants to address community-identified development challenges.
ENSURING PEACE AND SECURITY
The Republic of Korea’s New Southern Policy and the United States’ Indo-Pacific Strategy share the goal of contributing to regional peace and stability. Both the Republic of Korea and the United States are strengthening and expanding cooperation to support our partners in the region to overcome diverse non-traditional security challenges.
- Countering Transnational Crimes: The ROK and the United States are coordinating efforts to support law enforcement agencies’ capacity building in ASEAN countries. The Korean National Police Agency’s (KNPA) K-Cop Wave Program has provided training, equipment, and expertise to law enforcement agencies in the Philippines, Indonesia, and Vietnam. The United States is planning to invest $55 million in the Mekong region to strengthen the region’s law enforcement and justice sector capacity to combat transnational crime and is reviewing partnership with the ROK on its K-Cop Wave Program. In addition, the two countries are considering ways to strengthen our regional law enforcement networks via the International Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA) in Bangkok and the Korean National Police University.
- Counternarcotics: The ROK has been conducting anti-drug assistance programs for drug control authorities in Southeast Asia focusing on officer-exchanges, campaign co-hosting, training, and provision of equipment. The United States and the ROK are continuing to enhance working-level coordination among respective law enforcement agencies and information sharing networks including the Anti-Drug Liaison Officials Meeting for International Cooperation. During the August 2020 U.S.-ROK Indo-Pacific Strategy-New Southern Policy Dialogue, both countries decided to coordinate in preventing illicit drug trafficking, sharing best practices and expertise, and collaborating on reducing substance use through drug demand reduction interventions.
- Maritime Security: The ROK and the United States are working to increase transparency and strengthen maritime law enforcement capacity with partner maritime law enforcement agencies to more efficiently provide material support for facility construction and enhance equipment interoperability based on complementary efforts, architecture, and equipment.
- Cybersecurity: During the August 2020 U.S.-ROK Indo-Pacific Strategy-New Southern Policy Dialogue, both countries identified common areas for cyber capacity building cooperation, including facilitating ROK participation in the International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs-funded U.S. Transnational and High-Tech Crime Global Law Enforcement Network (GLEN), continued coordination on the Joint U.S.-ROK Symposium on countering cyber attacks to financial institutions, and sharing best practices to assist the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office’s work to establish the Asia-Pacific Cybercrime (APC) Hub.
- Marine Environmental Protection: The ROK has provided education and training sessions on seawater quality analysis, marine environment monitoring and responses to marine debris with officials from Cambodia, Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines, Laos, and Thailand. The ROK looks forward to coordinating with the United States to convene the 7th International Marine Debris Conference in 2022 to address this growing problem throughout the Indo-Pacific region.
- Water Security: In a collaborative effort to enhance capacity to cope with water-related disasters, the ROK MOFA and Korea Water Resources Corporation (K-water) have partnered with the Department of State, U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to implement a joint project which provides satellite-based water resource data and training to Mekong countries. The Korea-Mekong Water Resources Management Research Center, in collaboration with the United States and other partners, works to improve water resources management in the Mekong region. The ROK also shared its analysis and expertise at the Indo-Pacific Conference on Strengthening Governance of Transboundary Rivers in October 2020.
- Disaster Response and Preparedness: The Republic of Korea committed $1.8 million to a ROK-Pacific Islands Climate Prediction Service Project to build resilience to natural disasters in the Pacific Islands, which concludes in 2021. In concert, USAID obligated nearly $8.3 million in fiscal year 2020 to build the Pacific Island countries’ disaster preparedness and response capacity to strengthen first responders, enhance and expand early warning systems, increase disaster awareness, and improve preparedness among at-risk communities.