By: Embassy of the Republic of the Philippines, SEOUL

SEOUL 08 April 2024 - The Philippines led discussions on ASEAN-Republic of Korea (ROK) Economic Cooperation, particularly on Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), during the 28th ASEAN-ROK Dialogue in Seoul. Undersecretary and the Philippines' ASEAN SOM Leader Maria Theresa P. Lazaro thanked the ROK for its support for MSMEs and start-up development in ASEAN through consistent policy dialogues and capacity-building programs.

Top photo: Undersecretary for Bilateral Relations and ASEAN Affairs and Philippine-ASEAN Senior Official Ma. Theresa P. Lazaro leads the discussion on ASEAN-ROK cooperation on the Economic Security Pillar. Middle photo: Senior Officials of ASEAN Member States and ROK participate in the 28th ASEAN-ROK Dialogue. Bottom: Philippine Ambassador to ROK Maria Theresa B. Dizon-De Vega (second to the right), DFA Assistant Secretary and ASEAN-Philippines Director-General Daniel R. Espiritu (second to the left), Third Secretary Reisha Olavario (rightmost), and Principal Assistant Prince Nagpala (leftmost) joined Usec Lazaro as part of the Philippine Delegation
"We encourage ROK and ASEAN member states to explore projects that will strengthen our MSMEs and create a supportive environment for these businesses to thrive", said Undersecretary Lazaro.

On Maritime Cooperation, Undersecretary Lazaro welcomed ROK's statement opposing destabilizing and coercive actions in the South China Sea. Undersecretary Lazaro likewise expressed Philippine support for the Korea-ASEAN Solidarity Initiative (KASI), particularly its objective to Expand ASEAN-ROK comprehensive security cooperation through setting up bilateral channels of maritime cooperation with AMS and enhancing existing policy dialogue on maritime affairs with the Philippines.

The Undersecretary also emphasized that the situation in the South China Sea must not be viewed mainly as a function of the US-China strategic rivalry. "Subscribing strictly to the prism of this rivalry is, to our minds, simplistic, and does not help in an honest understanding of the situation" inasmuch as "aggressive unilateral actions that are clearly illegal in international law and against the UN Charter, which directly affects some ASEAN Member States, like the Philippines, are sometimes rationalized, denigrated and overlooked under the pretext of this rivalry," while "legitimate responses of aggrieved parties, which again include some ASEAN Member States, to illegal actions are at times unjustly viewed through the prism of this strategic rivalry," Undersecretary Lazaro added.

Undersecretary Lazaro expressed concern over the DPRK's continuing launch of ballistic missiles, especially the third ballistic missile test this year conducted on 02 April 2024. Recognizing that such actions undermine economic progress, peace, and stability in the Korean Peninsula and the Indo-Pacific region, Undersecretary Lazaro conveyed the Philippines' support for the call for a complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization of DPRK.

This year, ASEAN and the ROK celebrate 35 years of Dialogue Relations and are looking forward to elevating relations to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership (CSP). Full Dialogue Partnership and Strategic Partnership (SP) between ASEAN and ROK were established in 1991 and 2011, respectively.

Philippine Ambassador to ROK Maria Theresa B. Dizon-De Vega, DFA Assistant Secretary and ASEAN-Philippines Director-General Daniel R. Espiritu, Third Secretary and Vice Consul Reisha Olavario, and DFA Principal Assistant Prince Nagpala joined Undersecretary Lazaro as members of the Philippine delegation. END