Honorable Chair, heads of state and government, representatives from member states,
I hope the ASEM summit will become conducive to solving pending global issues.
Today, humanity is facing a host of challenges. The multilateral trade order on which global economic prosperity has been based is being severely challenged. Socio-economic divides are widening even further. The earth is reeling from climate change, and terrorism and extremism are threatening international peace and safety.
These challenges cannot be tackled by one country’s capabilities alone. We must gather all of our ideas and strengths. We also need new ways of thinking for a better future.
ASEM’s potential grabs my attention. It has become a venue for all member states to join discussions on an equal footing and freely put forward their opinions.
Through solidarity between Asia and Europe, together we have pursued our common goals of international peace and stability as well as sustainable socio-economic development.
There are, however, still many tasks to be done. I believe that we should concentrate our capabilities on the following three areas:
First, we should expand inclusiveness into all economic and social sectors.
The Republic of Korea aspires to be an inclusive nation. Its overriding goal is to help prioritize the value of inclusiveness throughout society, going beyond the redistribution of income.
I look forward to ASEM consolidating the will of all its member nations for sustainable and inclusive growth.
ASEM member nations have achieved remarkable economic growth compared to the time when it was launched. Trade among us has tripled and now accounts for 65 percent of the world’s total.
Benefits have to be shared among far more people. In addition, an open and predictable order of trade has to be established to ensure that the foundation for free trade does not falter.
Second, the Fourth Industrial Revolution is both a challenge and an opportunity.
The Republic of Korea is pursuing innovative growth. The Korean Government is shoring up an institutional infrastructure by enhancing the foundation for a fair economy and revamping regulations in new technologies and industries such as artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things and big data.
European and Asian countries are global leaders in the digital field. I hope that Korea and ASEM member nations will be able to work together to pioneer newly growing fields such as the digital economy.
In the process, other inequalities such as employment polarization and the digital divide should be avoided. I hope ASEM spearheads discussions on a people-centered Fourth Industrial Revolution.
Third, connections among all Asian and European member states have to be strengthened.
The ASEM Economic Ministers’ Meeting was held in Seoul last year for the first time after a 12-year absence. An ultra-high-speed telecommunication network was established for research purposes with information and communications technology, one of Korea’s strengths, thereby expediting joint research between Asia and Europe on cutting-edge technologies.
The Korean Government’s contribution to reinforcing connectivity between ASEM member nations is not limited to economic areas. While strengthening bonds among future generations through scholarship programs, it established the ASEM Global Ageing Center to respond to aging societies that confront both Asia and Europe.
The Republic of Korea is also actively pursuing the New Southern Policy that is designed to reach ASEAN and India via sea and the New Northern Policy that aims to stretch to Europe through the Eurasian continent.
The connectivity between Asia and Europe will be completed through peace on the Korean Peninsula.
I have met Chairman Kim Jong Un of North Korea three times and confirmed his determination for denuclearization and peace on the Korean Peninsula. Ending 70 years of hostile relations, North Korea and the United States are also sitting down face-to-face and having a dialogue for peace.
Peace on the Korean Peninsula will ultimately lead to common prosperity in Asia and Europe.
I look forward to continued interest and support from you, the members of ASEM.