26 May 2009
By Llanesca T. Panti, Reporter
South Korea has called on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) for more investments in developing new and renewable sources of energy.
Its President Lee Myung-Bak noted that if South Koreas green technologya fusion of information technology, biotechnology and nano technologywas combined with Aseans opportunities in green growth, both parties could move closer to creating low-carbon smart cities.
Lee disclosed that Seoul is working to put in place smart grids that would help South Korea and Asean to drastically reduce carbon emissions, increase efficiency and reduce overall consumption.
Asean, composed of the Philippines, Brunei, Laos, Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Myanmar, Singapore and Vietnam, is South Koreas third-largest trading partner. It constitutes the second-largest overseas investment destination of South Korea.
President Lees speech
Seoul is making bold investments in developing new sources of clean energy in order to remain globally competitive. With climate change accelerating at such an alarming rate, we can no longer be complacent, Lee said in his speech ahead of the Asean-South Korea Commemorative Summit on Jeju Island on June 1 to 2. The Manila Times had obtained a copy of the speech.
The South Korean president said that while his countrys journey toward economic progress has been marked by many proud achievements, South Korea also made mistakes, particularly on its over-reliance on fossil fuels.
He revealed that South Korea used to get more than 97 percent of its energy needs from abroad and, in the past, Lee said, many thought such situation was unavoidable.
As such, he suggested that South Korea and Asean cooperate in research activities to develop various forms of alternative energies, as well as forestation projects that would play a pivotal role in tackling global warming.
Climate change is a daunting challenge that requires concerted global effort, but it can also be an historic opportunity for promoting cooperation between South Korea and Asean, Lee pointed out.
Through this [cooperation] and much more, South Korea and Asean can become the worlds pioneering leaders and the worlds green research hub that introduces new innovations and turn green ideas into reality, he said.
The East Asia Climate Partnership that Seoul launched in 2008, according to Lee, can also strengthen such green partnership. Additionally, the impending Asean Free Trade Agreement is expected to be a factor such team-up as it will facilitate not only trade and investment but also promote cultural, tourism and educational exchanges.
Having spent a great deal of my time in Asean countries as a young businessman, I recall the warm hospitality, thriving entrepreneurship and the magnificent cultural splendor of Asean. This is why I know that there is so much South Korea can learn from and share with our Asean friends, he said. Until Lee became the president of South Korea, he was the Chief Executive Officer of Hyundai Corp.
He will meet with the leaders from the 10 Asean member-states and the secretary-general of Asean at the Jeju summit but will hold separate summits in Seoul with four Asean leadersPhilippine President Gloria Arroyo and Prime Ministers Lee Hsien Loong of Singapore, Hun Sen of Cambodia and Nguyen Tan Dung of Vietnam. All four will make official visits to South Korea on the occasion of the commemorative summit.
Based on Department of Foreign Affairs records, South Korea is one of the Philippines most dynamic bilateral partners. Bilateral trade between the two countries stands at around $5.06 billion, while over $3 billion in South Korean investments have topped the list of the Philippines foreign direct investment inflows. Furthermore, at least 600,000 South Korean tourists visit the Philippines annuallythe largest share of the visitor arrivals to the Philippines.