Cayetano back from sickbed to chair Asean Plus Three meeting
After calling in sick the day before, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano went back to hosting the 18th Asean Plus Three Foreign Ministers’ Meeting held Monday morning at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) in Pasay City, Manila.
Cayetano headed the Asean foreign ministers’ meeting with their counterparts in the Trilateral Cooperation countries People’s Republic of China, Japan, and Republic of Korea.
Cayetano still sounded unwell as he delivered his opening remarks during the meeting. He skipped the Sunday meetings of the Asean after he called in sick.
He touted the role of the Asean Plus Three (APT) countries in bringing tourists in the country, as well as sharing their culture with the Philippines in the form of Korean music, drama and merchandise, and Japanese cuisine.
Cayetano lauded the meetings with the Plus Three countries to discuss issues such as regional and global security, food security, connectivity, energy, health, pandemic diseases, culture, environment, and biodiversity conservation, tourism, science and technology innovation, information technology, poverty alleviation and eradication, disaster management, and youth and education.
“Our meeting will affirm our comment to broaden the APT cooperation in addressing traditional and nontraditional security issues such as terrorism and violent extremism, transnational crimes, cyber security, climate change, disaster management, food security, energy security, and pandemic diseases,” Cayetano said.
APT co-chair Japan Foreign Affairs Minister Taro Kono welcomed the APT’s ties on the “financial and economic front” that developed in the past 20 years of APT cooperation, citing the need for these countries to cooperate with the Asean to maintain the free trade regime in the rise of protectionism.
China’s foreign affairs minister Wang Yi touted the APT’s role in becoming a vehicle for the Plus Three countries to agree on their shared interests with the Asean, amid an anti-globalization sentiment and an emerging protectionist trend.
“At the backdrop of anti-globalization and emerging protectionism, it is important for the Ten Plus Three countries to shoulder responsibility of remaining a vehicle for deep and practical cooperation and promote the East Asia community,” he said.
Republic of Korea foreign affairs minister Kang Kyung-wha for her part cited the Islamic State-inspired Maute terrorists attack in Marawi City as an example that the Asean region is no longer safe from the threat of terrorism and violent extremism.
“Terrorism knows no more boundaries, and directly threatening the safety and wellbeing of our peoples. This is evident by the recent attempt by Isis militants to seize the Mindanao island in the Philippines,” Kang said.
“We can all agree that the Asean region is no longer immune to terrorist attacks,” she added.
Kang said the problems Asean face today are “far more complex and interconnected than ever before,” citing the threats of terrorism, an anti-globalization sentiment, and a rising protectionism which are “fueling global economic and political uncertainty.”
The APT foreign ministers are expected at the meeting to review and discuss the future direction of APT cooperation, share views on regional and international issues, and prepare for the 20th APT Summit in November.
They will also adopt a new APT Cooperation Work Plan for 2018 to 2022, which will be submitted to the APT leaders at the 20th APT Summit.
The APT summit was first institutionalized in 1999 as Asean leaders and the plus three countries issued a joint statement for the East Asia cooperation.
The APT framework has since become a framework for promoting East Asian regionalism, covering issues such as political and security; transnational crime; economic; finance; tourism; agriculture and forestry; energy; minerals; small and medium-sized enterprises; environment; rural development and poverty eradication; social welfare; youth; women; civil service; labor; culture and arts; information and media; education; science, technology, and innovation; and public health.
China is part of the APT meetings, as they engage with Asean countries to endorse the framework for the code of conduct over the South China Sea amid competing claims over the resource rich and navigation route waters. CBB/JE