ASEAN Plus Three Cooperation

1. Since the process began in 1997, ASEAN Plus Three (APT) cooperation has broadened and deepened. It includes cooperation in the areas of food and energy security, financial cooperation, trade facilitation, disaster management, people-to-people contacts, narrowing the development gap, rural development and poverty alleviation, human trafficking, labour movement, communicable diseases, environment and sustainable development, and transnational crime, including counter-terrorismi
2. A Second Joint Statement on East Asia Cooperation and the ASEAN Plus Three Cooperation Work Plan (2007-2017) were adopted at the 11th APT Summit in November 2007 in Singapore. The documents contain accomplishments, opportunities and challenges faced by APT and provide strategic guidance for the future direction of APT cooperation. At the same time, the Summit also endorsed the proposal to establish an ASEAN Plus Three Cooperation Fund (APTCF) to facilitate the implementation of the Work Plan. The Fund was launched formally during the 9th APT Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in July 2008 in Singapore.
3. Subsequently, the Guidelines to implement the Second Joint Statement on East Asia Cooperation and the ASEAN Plus Three Cooperation Work Plan (2007-2017) was endorsed at the 13th APT Directors-General Meeting on 3 July 2009 in Seoul.
Political-Security Cooperation
4. APT cooperation in the area of political and security cooperation has been deepened by regular dialogue and exchange of views through existing APT mechanisms, such as the APT Summit, APT Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, APT Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM) and as well as through track 1.5 and track two dialogue, including East Asia Forum and Network of East Asia Think-tanks.
5. In combating transnational crime in the region, the APT Work Plan on Cooperation in Combating Transnational Crime was adopted in 2006. Consequently, the APT Ministers on Transnational Crime in 2011 tasked the Senior Officials to implement concrete projects within and beyond the APT Work Plan.
6. APT cooperation has also strengthened in the area of civil service of which the cooperation is undertaken through the APT Conference on Civil Service Matters. A Joint Declaration on APT Civil Service Cooperation was adopted at their second meeting on 29 October 2010 in Luang Prabang, Lao PDR. The Joint Declaration will assist APT countries in intensifying cooperation in civil service matters, especially in the area of human resources.
7. With the aim to further strengthening APT cooperation, East Asia Vision Group (EAVG) II was established by the Leaders of APT at the 13th APT Summit on 29 October 2010 in Ha Noi to stock-take, review and identify the future direction of APT cooperation. The EAVG II will submit its final report to the 15th APT Summit in November 2012 in Phnom Penh.
Finance and Economic Cooperation
8. Significant progress has been made in economic cooperation under the framework of APT, especially in the trade and investment, finance, tourism, food and energy security cooperation.
9. In accordance with ASEAN statistics, ASEAN trade with the Plus Three countries remains robust. In 2010, total trade recorded an increase of 28.9 per cent amounting to US$533.3 billion – which was higher than prior to the decline in 2009 – with exports and imports grew by 34.9 per cent and 23.5 per cent, respectively. Total trade with Plus Three countries accounted for 26.1 per cent share of ASEAN’s total trade in 2010. Total Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) flow from the Plus Three countries into ASEAN remains on an upward trend, recording a surge of 62.4 per cent amounting to US$14.9 billion in 2010 from US$9.2 billion in 2009. FDI flow from the Plus Three countries accounted for one fifth of the total FDI flows into ASEAN in 2010ii.
10. In finance cooperation, progress has been steady and the focus continues to be on the implementation of the Chiang Mai Initiative Multilateralisation (CMIM) and the Asian Bond Market Initiative (ABMI).
The CMIM provides financial support through currency swap transactions among APT countries in times of liquidity need. The CMIM is monitored by the APT Macroeconomic Research Office (AMRO) located in Singapore. Under ABMI framework, the Credit Guarantee and Investment Facility (CGIF) and the APT Bond Market Forum (ABMF) have contributed to the development of efficient and liquid bond markets in the region. Since the start of its activities in 2003, the ABMI has pushed for the better utilisation of large savings and an increase of investments in the region.
11. Despite the global economic slowdown in some major markets, the international tourist arrivals in APT countries in 2011 remained resilient with more than 147 million arrivals with 3.7 per cent of growth compared to 2010. A Memorandum of Cooperation on APT tourism cooperation is currently being prepared with the aim to facilitate travel within APT countries, enhancing quality of tourism products and forge concrete collaboration in the tourism sector through joint activities and exchange of experience.
12. Major developments were made in food and energy security cooperation. The APT Emergency Rice Reserve (APTERR) Agreement, a permanent scheme for meeting emergency requirements and achieving humanitarian purposes, was signed on 7 October 2011 in Jakarta. The APTERR is now coordinated by the APTERR Secretariat located in Bangkok. At the same time, the APT Comprehensive Strategy on Food Security and Bio-energy Development was endorsed by the ASEAN Ministers on Agriculture and Forestry. This strategy provides an umbrella for multi-sectoral cooperation among APT countries in ensuring long-term food security and bio-energy development.
Socio-Cultural Cooperation
13. Cooperation in socio-cultural fields also continues to strengthen in the areas of people-to-people exchanges and regular dialogue and exchange of views on culture, environment, rural development and poverty, women, social welfare and development, labour and information sector.
14. APT cooperation in health is progressing well. After the conclusion of the APT Emerging Infectious Diseases (EID) Programme Phase II in the end of June 2010, APT countries decided to maintain its focus of collaboration on i) EID including APT Field Epidemiology Training Network (FETN), APT Partnership Laboratories (APL) and Risk Communication; ii) Traditional Medicines;  and iii) Pandemic Preparedness and Response.
15. Cooperation in education had been added a new areas of APT collaboration. The informal meeting of APT Ministers on Education was held on 18 July 2011 in Bali, Indonesia in which the meeting discussed on the future direction of APT cooperation in education. The first meeting of APT on education is expected to be held in second half of 2012.