A new partnership
between the ROK and Maritime Southeast Asia

The 3rd BIMP-EAGA TVET Conference 2023

    The 3rd BIMP-EAGA TVET Conference 2023           The 3rd BIMP-EAGA TVET (Technical Vocational and Education Training) Conference was held in Kuching, Malaysia between March 8 and March 9, 2023. The conference was co-hosted by the Ministry of Education, Innovation and Talent Development (MEITD), the Sarawak Skills Development Center, and the state-funded TVET organization. The plenary meeting was led by Sarawak Prime Minister, Abang Johari Tun Openg.   The BIMP-EAGA aims to accelerate the improvement of culture, education and technology and to develop competent human resources through cooperation in the fields of Society – Culture - Education (SCE). For comprehensive educational cooperation, higher education and technical education are divided based on the needs of the EAGA region, namely higher educational institutions (HEI) and technical and vocational educational institutions (TVETI). The BIMP-EAGA holds TVET forum and HEI summit to share information on employment demands and skill demands, and to expand the network with stakeholders with the main goal to ensure that schools can connect well with the society.   The 3rd BIMP-EAGA TVET Conference was attended by practitioners and experts from academia, industry and government agencies, including Hallman bin Haji Sabri, the director of Sarawak Technology Development Center; Anang Ristanto, the chair of SCE Cluster; and Khoo Nee Teck, the chief technology officer of Huawei Malaysia. The theme of the two-day conference was "TVET leading innovation and talent development", and various perspectives were discussed on four sub-themes such as ‘Innovation and Technology, Human Resource Management and Prospects, as well as Strengthening Partnerships between Green TVET, BIMP-EAGA TVET and HEI’. TVET practitioners shared their best practices and discussed ways to improve the TVET curriculum. They expected that partnerships between institutions can be strengthened to produce competent graduates.    The TVET Sarawak website (tvetsarawak2023.my) provided further details about TVET conference registration and programming.              [References] · TVET SARAWAK, 2023. (https://tvetsarawak2023.my/) · BIMP-EAGA, 2023. 3rd BIMP-EAGA TVET Conference to be Held in Kuching in March. (As of 2023. 02. 23. https://bimp-eaga.asia/article/3rd-bimp-eaga-tvet-conference-be-held-kuching-march)        

2023 BIMP-EAGA Strategic Planning Meeting

    2023 BIMP-EAGA Strategic Planning Meeting     Source: Coordinating Ministry for Economic Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia       The 2023 BIMP-EAGA Strategic Planning Meeting (SPM) was held in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei between February 6 and February 8, 2023. Approximately 150 people attended the meeting, including Netty Muharni, the deputy minister of the Coordinating Ministry for Economic Affairs of Indonesia who also served as the chairman of the meeting; senior managers of the BIMP-EAGA Coordinating Secretariat and the Asian Development Bank; and delegations from the four BIMP countries. The participants discussed the previous year's performance report in the fields of 'connection, environment, trade, tourism, social, cultural, and education', as well as the direction of cooperation in 2023. They also evaluated the ‘Rolling Pipeline (RPoPs) 2020-2022’ project, which is part of Priority Infrastructure Projects (PIPs), with strengthening connectivity as a key theme at the 2023 BIMP-EAGA SPM, and discussed the items to be supplemented in the next stage of the project, known as the ‘Rolling Pipeline (RPoPs) 2023-2025’. BIMP-EAGA planned 104 PIPs in 2017 and completed 45 in 2022, ten projects are in the final stage and 49 are in progress. In 2022, 10 new projects were added to connect farms and markets and to promote trade in border areas.   Chairperson Netti Muharni said that “there is a need to create new strategies so that the programs currently being promoted at BIMP-EAGA can actively respond to global dynamics and megatrends. Connectivity should be expanded by immediately opening sea, land and air routes that were closed due to the pandemic, and through the economic corridor, trade and investment and tourism should be stimulated to promote economic growth”. She further added that active exchanges in the border area should be made by resuming air routes linking Kuching, Malaysia with Pontianak, Indonesia and Davao, the Philippines with Manado, Indonesia, maritime route connecting Bitung Port, Indonesia with General Santos Port, the Philippines, and the operation of the Indonesian public bus (DAMRI) between Indonesia Pontianak and Brunei.   Through this meeting, the participants expected that the shrinking economy of the subregion would be revitalized by increasing production and creating jobs through strengthening the institutional foundation of the BIMP-EAGA and by working closely together with EAGA's local government officials and private actors.              [References] · Brunei News Gazette, 2023. BIMP-EAGA Strategic Planning Meeting. (As of 2023. 02. 06. https://www.bruneinewsgazette.com/bimp-eaga-strategic-planning-meeting/) · Kementerian Koordinator Bidang Perekonomian Republik Indonesia, 2023. Siapkan Strategi Baru Implementasi Program Kerja Berkelanjutan, Strategic Planning Meeting BIMP-EAGA Kembali Digelar. (As of 2023. 02. 09. https://ekon.go.id/publikasi/detail/4911/siapkan-strategi-baru-implementasi-program-kerja-berkelanjutan-strategic-planning-meeting-bimp-eaga-kembali-digelar)      

The 2nd BIMP-EAGA Maritime 2023 Conference

    The 2nd BIMP-EAGA Maritime 2023 Conference     [Source: Transport Event]     The 2nd BIMP-EAGA Maritime 2023 Conference will be held at the JW Marriott Hotel in Jakarta from February 21 to 23, 2023. The conference is the BIMP-EAGA's largest international logistics and port-related event, which has been held since 2022 to bolster regional trade routes and promote economic development. The 1st BIMP-EAGA Maritime 2022 Conference was held in Kota Kinabalu and was hosted by Sabah Ports and Sabah Ports Authority, Malaysia.   The 2nd BIMP-EAGA Maritime 2023 Conference will be hosted by the Indonesian National Port Authority (PT Pelabuhan Indonesia - PELINDO), with support from the BIMP-EAGA Business Council, the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport Indonesia, and the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce. During the conference, various exhibitions and international trade conferences related to the logistics industry, such as ports, shipping, and transportation, will be organized. 30 global entrepreneurs and 400 executives specializing in the logistics industry will attend the conference to discuss the latest trends in the international transportation and logistics industry. In addition, 40 domestic and foreign companies are expected to showcase the latest technologies related to port services, shipping and logistics.   The specific program of the conference is as follows. On the 21st, invited participants will visit the Port of Tanjung Priok, the largest port in Indonesia, and the Indonesia Maritime Museum. Meanwhile, on the 22nd and 23rd, at the conference consisting of a total of seven sessions, there will be presentations and discussions on topics such as logistics and port management by BIMP-EAGA countries, BIMP-EAGA economic corridor investment, subregional cooperation, port infrastructure expansion and strategy. The specific conference topics are as follows.       [BIMP-EAGA Maritime 2023 Conference Program]     BIMP-EAGA expects to assist participants from an international network through this event and to provide an opportunity to expand market participation for the private sectors based on the analysis and advice of experts in each field.                 [References] · BEBC BRUNEI, 2023. BIMP-EAGA Maritime 2023 Conference to be held in February. (As of 2023.01.21. https://bruneibebc.com/bimp-eaga-maritime-2023-conference-to-be-held-in-february/) · TRANSPORT EVENTS, 2023. http://www.transportevents.com/ForthcomingEventsdetails.aspx?EventID=EVE182 · Japan External Trade Organization, 2023. https://www.jetro.go.jp/en/database/j-messe/tradefair/detail/125329      

8 projects approved for the 2nd BKCF projects

    8 projects approved for the 2nd BKCF projects     With the 2nd BKCF, support will be given to the home-use solar power generation system construction project in Surigao Island, Mindanao. (Source: BIMP-EAGA)       The Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI), the depository of the BIMP-EAGA and Republic of Korea Cooperation Fund (BKCF), opened up for 2nd BKCF proposal call from August 3rd to September 2nd, 2022.   A total of 62 project proposals were submitted for the call, and 8 proposals were selected at the BIMP-EAGA and ROK Senior Officials Meeting (SOM) held in December 2022. The start date for the selected projects is yet to be announced. The eight project proposals selected in the 2nd BKCF project call are as follows.       Table 1. The Eight Project Proposals Selected in the 2nd BKCF Project Competition     Three project proposals were approved for the Philippines, two for Malaysia, and two for Indonesia, and one project is multi-country project covering the whole area of BIMP-EAGA.   Looking at the approved projects by country, the three project proposals for the Philippines include ‘Mainstream Energy Efficiency in MSME builidings’, ‘Creating Livelihood Options through Agroenterprise Development towards the Reinvention of the Butig’, and ‘Off-grid Solar Home Systems Deployment in Disaster Vulnerable Low-income Communities’.    Meanwhile, the two project proposals for Malaysia are ‘Waterworks Improvement Project of rural areas in Sabah’ and ‘Promoting Low Carbon Schools project’. As for Indonesia, the approved project proposal is ‘Strengthening social forestry in supporting sustainable and low-emission landscape management’ and 'Increasing resilience of small scale fisheries to climate change impact'.                [References] · BIMP-EAGA, 2023. Eight Projects Selected for Korean Funding. (as of 2023.01.13. https://bimp-eaga.asia/article/eight-projects-selected-korean-funding) · GGGI, 2023. https://gggi.org/global-program/bkcf/      

Expert column Expert column

Korea’s Cooperation with ASEAN and the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) Republic of Korea (ROK) Cooperation Fund (BKCF)

    Hong Sun-beom (Former head of KOICA office in Busan)     To date, the concept of ‘ASEAN’ has been generally recognized as ‘Southeast Asian countries’ apart from scholars or relevant individuals to the region. Nonetheless, interests in ASEAN have increased significantly in the past 10 years or so. The three ASEAN-Korea Commemorative Summits (2009, 2014, 2019) and the 1st Mekong-Korea Summit (2019) held in Korea drew public attention towards ASEAN. In particular, interest in Jeju (2009) and Busan (2014, 2019) as the host cities of those events were very high.   In addition, ASEAN has rapidly begun to attract the attention of Korea as a strategic partner for win-win development, starting with the previous Korean administration's New Southern Policy. Taking the “2022 ASEAN Summit” held in Cambodia last year as an opportunity, the newly launched Korean government participated in ASEAN-related multilateral summits such as the ASEAN-Korea Summit, ASEAN+3, and the East Asia Summit (EAS), and strongly expressed our will for cooperation with ASEAN. Indeed, our country has recognized the importance of cooperation with ASEAN, and has steadily developed strategic diplomatic relations. Korea has also sequentially established partial dialogue partners (1989), full dialogue partners (1991), comprehensive cooperative partnership (2004), and strategic partnership (2010), and reached an agreement with ASEAN to upgrade the relationship to a comprehensive strategic partnership in 2024 during the 35th anniversary of the establishment of dialogue relations with ASEAN. This is the highest level of partnership with the ASEAN dialogue partner.   Why are we paying more attention to ASEAN? Some notable reasons include: First, diplomatically ASEAN is an important partner on issues related to the Korean Peninsula given that all of its member countries have diplomatic relations with South and North Korea simultaneously. In addition, ASEAN is Korea's 1st visit, 2nd trade, and 3rd investment destination (as of 2021) in terms of people-to-people exchanges and economic activities. Above all, ASEAN is also an Official Development Assistance (ODA) partner for Korea. Among Korea's 27 ODA priority partner countries, six ASEAN countries (CLMV + Indonesia and the Philippines) account for about 29% of Korea's total ODA. Based on Korea’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) strategy and the development policies and demands of ASEAN countries, the Korean government selects key cooperation areas such as transportation, water, health-sanitation, education, environmental protection, and energy, and implements ODA. ODA is the Korean government's cooperation strategy with ASEAN, and is actively being used for mutual assistance and mutual cooperation in politics, economy, and security.   The Korean government has also initiated three cooperation funds as a financial basis for strengthening practical cooperation with ASEAN. As of 2022, the ASEAN-ROK Cooperation Fund (AKCF, 1990) deposits $16 million annually in the ASEAN Secretariat and has been actively utilized to implement various education, training, exchange, and cooperation projects for 10 ASEAN countries. The Korea-Mekong Cooperation Fund (MKCF, 2012) donated $5 million annually to the Mekong Institute, and it is being used to alleviate the development gap between the five Mekong countries (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam, and Thailand), improve connectivity, and strengthen cooperation between Korea and the Mekong. The BIMP-EAGA-ROK Cooperation Fund (BKCF, 2021) is the most recent fund. Additionally, by reflecting the common demand for development in the environmental sector of the four member countries, the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) has been designated as the depository, and an annual fund of 3 million dollars is being operated. It is being used for environment, tourism, connectivity (transportation, trade, investment, ICT, energy infrastructure, etc.), agricultural and fishery cooperation projects. These funds will be significantly increased over the next five years, doubling their current size.     *GGGI is an international organization established in Seoul to support low-carbon, green growth strategies in developing countries (Non-profit foundation in June 2010 → Certified as an international organization in June 2012)      Meanwhile, within ASEAN, there are various subregional cooperation organizations including the IMS-GT (1989), the IMT-GT (1993), the GMS (1992), and the BIMP-EAGA (1994). Among these, the BIMP-EAGA experienced a period of stagnation due to the Asian financial crisis (1997), but it has recently established a full-fledged cooperative relationship with Korea. Korea has been exerting efforts to accelerate cooperation with the BIMP-EAGA in earnest by creating the BIMP-EAGA-ROK Cooperation Fund (BKCF) in 2021.   Looking at the latest trends, through the Korea and the BIMP-EAGA Senior Management Meeting (SOM, 2021, 2022), discussions over the increase in the BIMP-EAGA-ROK Cooperation Fund (BKCF), especially in the environment (including climate change response and renewable energy), connectivity, and tourism sectors took place. The ‘Mindanao Cacao Growers Help Project’ and the ‘Research Project on Establishment of a Renewable Energy Certification System’ were selected in the 1st project competition of the BIMP-EAGA-ROK Cooperation Fund (BKCF). Meanwhile, in the 2nd project competition, a total of eight proposals were selected in the fields of environment and tourism, such as photovoltaic power generation, water supply improvement, and ecotourism.   Looking at the current status of the operation of the BIMP-EAGA-ROK Cooperation Fund (BKCF), there are several noteworthy points. First, it is a project selection by public offering (competition). Projects are selected and funded through a public competition targeting Korea and the BIMP-EAGA government departments, public institutions, universities, research institutes, and NGOs. Second, the size of the fund is small compared to other ASEAN-related funds. As it is a start-up fund, it is currently about 300 million dollars, and the budget is relatively small compared to the ASEAN-Korea Cooperation Fund (AKCF, 16 million dollars) and the Korea-Mekong Cooperation Fund (MKCF, 5 million dollars). Third, the project period is short, namely 1-2 years, and the number of project selections compared to the budget is high. According to the project cost support regulations of GGGI as the fund management agency, depending on the project proposal period, the amount of support ranges from $50,000 to $300,000 for one year and $100,000 to a maximum of $300,000 for two years. In the case of multinational projects, up to $200,000 per country can be supported. In summary, the annual subsidy per project is at least $50,000 to $100,000 (approximately 65 million won to 130 million won), and a maximum of $300,000 (approximately 390 million won). Through this, it is possible to estimate the scale of the eight projects selected in the recently held second project proposal competition.    For effective partnership and cooperation between Korea-BIMP-EAGA, it is necessary to think more about whether it has sufficient competitiveness in relation to strategic and efficient management plans for the Cooperation Fund (BKCF). A differentiated strategy is required to secure competitiveness such as ODA projects of other overseas donor institutions within the BIMP-EAGA on the higher scale, existing loan-free ODA projects to ASEAN by the Korean government, and the ASEAN-Korea Cooperation Fund (AKCF). Since it is still in its early stage, there is no clear mid- to long-term strategy, and it is somewhat regrettable that there is no strategic difference between them. The good news is the government's strong will to expand the fund is expected.   In order for the BKCF to develop and grow in the future, it would be good to solidify the existing shape, and to try the following changes and efforts. First, ODA in the maritime and fisheries sector should be strengthened. It is necessary to develop maritime and fisheries fields such as aquaculture, processing, storage, and fisheries cooperatives as specialized industries in line with the fund focusing on maritime cooperation in Southeast Asia. Considering the current form of fund management, it would be a strategic field that has a great ripple effect and fits the vision of the BIMP-EAGA. Second, it is necessary to break away from dependence on public offering projects. If we rely entirely on public offering projects or get caught up in selecting too many projects, the original strategic direction of the cooperative fund may be lost. In addition, efficiency or ripple effects may not be felt and thus we should be vigilant. If needed, it is also necessary to promote a separate ‘strategic-planning project’ apart from the competition project. Third, it is necessary to lead the balanced participation of member states. When four Southeast Asian countries are proposing a public competition project, efforts to induce and coordinate participation are also necessary so that participation can be balanced without being biased.    There is still not enough public consensus or awareness of the cooperation between Korea and the BIMP-EAGA. In addition to local support projects for economic growth in ASEAN member countries, domestic awareness-raising activities in Korea are also needed through academic events and online promotion. Moreover, through the expansion of exchange and cooperation with the BIMP-EAGA, if regional understanding of the BIMP-EAGA and close follow-up studies are followed, it is expected that the BIMP-EAGA-ROK Cooperation Fund (BKCF) will greatly contribute to the development of the BIMP-EAGA and the growth of Korea and ASEAN as mutually beneficial and cooperative partners.          

BIMP-EAGA-ROK cooperation under the Principles of “Inclusiveness, Trust, and Reciprocity” in the Korea’s Indo-Pacific Strategy

    Choi Yun-jeong (Director of Indo-Pacific Research Center, Sejong Institute)     On December 28, 2022, the Korean government announced the “Strategy for Free, Peaceful, and Prosperous Indo-Pacific Region”. Korea's Indo-Pacific Strategy (hereinafter referred to as the Indo-Pacific Strategy) presented three cooperation principles of “inclusiveness, trust, and reciprocity” and nine key challenges. The Indo-Pacific Strategy is the first regional strategy proposed by the Korean government under the vision of becoming a global pivotal state. After successfully announcing this regional strategy, the next task for the Korean government is to implement the strategy according to its purpose.    Korea’s Indo-Pacific Strategy includes the ‘Korea-ASEAN Solidarity Initiative (KASI)’ which specifically targets ASEAN. In the past years, Korea has had various institutional frameworks to support its cooperation with the ASEAN countries. It began diplomatic relations with ASEAN in 1989 as a dialogue partner, and upgraded its partnership with the continental ASEAN countries that belong to the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) to a “strategic partnership” in 2020. In 2021, by establishing ties with the BIMP-EAGA1) , which aims to foster development in the underdeveloped regions of the four maritime countries (Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines) located in the east of ASEAN, we have completed a cooperation system at the sub-regional level covering both the continental and maritime ASEAN. Cooperation with ASEAN is at a point where the Korea's Indo-Pacific Strategy can expect the fastest and most concrete result.    Cooperation with ASEAN is also of particular importance as it could serve as a gateway for Korea to expand its cooperation with other partner countries. ASEAN has been identified as a key partner in the Indo-Pacific Strategy announced by the United States, Japan, Australia, India, EU and other European countries, and Korea, and ASEAN centrality is referred to as the principle of regional cooperation. This means that when Korea implements its Indo-Pacific Strategy in ASEAN, cooperation with other partners can also be facilitated.    In particular, it is required to cooperate with BIMP-EAGA, which is expected to grow rapidly, as a model for Korea's partnership with ASEAN and the  implementation of its Indo-Pacific Strategy. BIMP-EAGA occupies 62.4% of the area of the four BIMP countries, but the population stands at 19.3% with the working age population at only 18.5%. However, its contribution to trade is 24.5% of the four BIMP countries. Even during the COVID-19 period, foreign direct investment in this area continued to increase2).  Due to border restrictions, the tourism industry was hit hard that BIMP countries had to rely solely on domestic tourism (99.8%) in 2021. Nonetheless, if the tourism industry recovers in 2023 with the massive influx of foreign tourists, it is expected to gain further momentum for economic growth.     Moreover, 2023 is the year where Indonesia, the chair country of BIMP-EAGA, becomes the chair of ASEAN. The Indonesian government also resumed the capital relocation project, which was delayed due to the COVID-19. When the capital is moved to Kutai Kartanegara and North Penajam Paser in East Kalimantan on the island of Borneo, which is in the BIMP-EAGA region, the status of BIMP-EAGA will be further enhanced. The governments of Malaysia, the Philippines, and Brunei have also expressed their intention to pay more attention and effort to the development of the region. For Korea, helping the growth of the BIMP-EAGA, which is emerging as the core of ASEAN growth in ASEAN will not only create new production base and markets, but it will help deterring China's influence seeking to advance into the region through various investments.    If this is the case, how can Korea promote cooperation with BIMP-EAGA in the implementation process of its Indo-Pacific Strategy? First, let's approach this from the perspective of the principle of “reciprocity” that realizes the growth potential of the BIMP-EAGA. In Article 21, Paragraph 2 of the ASEAN Charter, ASEAN has laid the foundation for the establishment of a subregional consultative body in which members can discuss specific matters. The BIMP-EAGA, a subregional consultative body faithful to the spirit of the ASEAN Charter, is conducting cooperative projects with its development partners (China, Japan, Australia, and Korea) centered on areas such as connectivity, food basket, tourism, environment, and socio-cultural-education. As it has the flexibility to determine the content, format, and the cooperation with the partner countries, the BIMP-EAGA is a suitable platform to promote mutually reciprocal small multilateral cooperation. Recalling the principle of “reciprocity”, Korea should seek cooperation in areas that can contribute to the realization of the BIMP-EAGA's Vision 2025 among the nine key challenges of the Indo-Pacific Strategy.      Table Example of Matching the Korea Indo-Pacific Strategy and the BIMP-EAGA Cooperation Areas Source: Prepared by the author based on data from the Korea's Indo-Pacific Strategy and BIMP-EAGA Vision 2025     One area with high potential for cooperation between Korea and the BIMP-EAGA is the promotion of maritime connectivity and maritime security. Connectivity is the priority cooperation agenda in ASEAN, and building physical connectivity is the top agenda of the BIMP-EAGA member countries to exchange with other regions. Particularly about Korea's participation in maritime connectivity projects, the member countries of the BIMP-EAGA have welcomed Korea’s involvement as “Korea is not only a reliable middle power with no hegemonic intentions, but we are also stakeholders in regional maritime security, where Korea's energy and resources must pass through Southeast Asian waters such as the Strait of Malacca and the South China Sea.”    This is linked to the “trust” principle that pursues cooperative relationships based on solid mutual trust. This is because maritime connectivity must ultimately be supported by maritime security. Trust between countries is an essential element in security cooperation. As the competition for maritime supremacy between the US and China over maritime communication routes is overheating, the security importance of maritime Southeast Asian countries is also increasing to prevent the possibility of military conflict. At the BIMP-EAGA Summit in 2019, Indonesian President Joko Widodo also requested that BIMP-EAGA take more serious interest in maritime security aspects such as kidnapping and piracy3) .    Korea emphasizes its position as a maritime nation and the value of maritime freedom, peace, and prosperity in the region in its Indo-Pacific Strategy. The BIMP-EAGA does not require Korea to create a new platform to pursue maritime security and prosperity, but it is an effective forum to gradually implement cooperation using the already established platform. It can be an effective starting point for establishing the Indo-Pacific regional order based on norms and rules in terms of maritime security. If Korea takes the BIMP-EAGA as the starting point of Korea-ASEAN maritime cooperation, it will help strengthen Korea's role in the region while enabling Korea to take a tangible step forward in the field of maritime cooperation.    Furthermore, when the cooperation with the BIMP-EAGA gets on the right track, it is important to review ways to develop it into an open cooperation platform that can pursue scalability in terms of regions and organizations. In other words, it is desirable to use minilateral cooperation as a multi-layer cooperation mechanism with Southeast Asia, while seeking organic cooperation with consultative bodies that involves major dialogue partners in the region. By applying open regionalism, trilateral cooperation can be expanded to working with other development partners such as Japan, Australia, China and other maritime-related countries and consultative bodies. As such, in implementing “inclusiveness,” the core principle of the Korea’s Indo-Pacific Strategy, the BIMP-EAGA could serve as an exemplary pilot case.               ------------------------------------------------------ 1)The Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) was launched in 1994 and has grown steadily into a sub-regional consultative body that currently hosts summit-level meetings.  2)Foreign direct investment inflow into BIMP-EAGA increased every year from $9.7 billion in 2019, $12.8 billion in 2020, and $13.6 billion in 2021, while domestic investment is stagnant at around $7 billion (BIMP-EAGA at a glance: A Statistical Information Brief 2022). 3)https://news.detik.com/berita/d-4596923/ktt-ke-13-bimp-eaga-jokowi-ingatkan-peningkatan-keamanan-kawasan-maritim

Customized Strategies for the BIMP-EAGA Should Move toward the ‘Green Partnership’

    Koh Yeong-kyeong (Research Professor, ASEAN Center, Asiatic Research Institute, Korea University)     In 2022, the new Korean government devised a diplomatic strategy centered on the Indo-Pacific strategy. As part of that, it also declared that it would integrate its ASEAN policy into a comprehensive strategic partnership. The main objective is to expand the cooperation between Korea and subregional cooperation organizations. Within ASEAN, which geographically spans a wide area encompassing the maritime and continental, one of the many subregional cooperation organizations that share geographical proximity and development issues is the East Asian Growth Area, the BIMP-EAGA. Although the BIMP-EAGA, which consists of the Southeast Asian maritime countries, is recognized for its importance in terms of geopolitics and biodiversity, its cooperation with Korea has been limited with no representative project have yet to emerge.         There are two main reasons behind the limited cooperation between the BIMP-EAGA and Korea. First, there is a lack of interest and understanding towards the BIMP-EAGA on the part of Korea. Ties between the two only started very recently. Although the BIMP-EAGA infrastructure development project was launched for the first time in 2009, the Korea-Maritime Southeast Asia Cooperation Initiative was only introduced at the Korea-ASEAN Summit in November 2020. Meanwhile, Korea's BIMP-EAGA Cooperation Fund was established in 2021, and the size of the fund was increased to $1 million in 2021 and $3 million in 2022. Despite the increased, the fund is still smaller than the Mekong Cooperation Fund. Long-term projects or large-scale projects have been limited to date. Fortunately, however, as the plan to double the size of the Korea-ASEAN Cooperation Fund in 2023 has been announced, the size of the BIMP-EAGA fund will also be expanded. Therefore, it is expected that there will be more plans for the BIMP-EAGA mid- to long-term projects in the future and that the range of project choices will additionally be broadened.   Second, the decision-making structure of the BIMP-EAGA and the consultation process of working-level officials are complicated. The BIMP-EAGA, a subregional consultative body of the Ministry of Maritime Affairs of Southeast Asia, was proposed by the Philippines President Ramos in 1992, but the first summit did not take place until 2003. After that, it was only after the ‘Roadmap to Development’ (2006-2011) and ‘Implementation Blueprint’(2012-2016) were adopted with the support of the Asian Development Bank that the BIMP-EAGA projects could be said to have entered full-scale. Since there are four main member countries with many stakeholders, including local governments of each country, the BIMP-EAGA governance structure is complex and the process is multi-layered - from consultation to implementation - which inevitably lengthens the process. The practical discussions with South Korea are naturally difficult to move quickly.       Korea and BIMP-EAGA's Common Area of Interest to Find a Way in "Green"   Although it started recently, Korea needs a strategy to find areas of mutual interest to efficiently carry out cooperative projects with the BIMP-EAGA. The goals pursued by the BIMP-EAGA are clearly outlined in ‘Vision 2025’.    The goal is to achieve economic development through infrastructure constructions and industrial development, ultimately reducing the regional development gap. Considering that the Philippines and Malaysia EAGA have poverty rates 14 and 7.9 percentage points higher than the national average, respectively, and lower income levels, there is an urgent need for regional development. To achieve this goal, the areas where the BIMP-EAGA hopes to collaborate most are transportation infrastructure and connectivity. Due to geographical conditions, marine island regions have lagged behind in terms of infrastructure development, which has been a disadvantage for economic development. In addition, since the maritime regions are vulnerable to the climate change, there is an urgent need to build infrastructure to ensure the quality of decent human life. However, if Korea's strategy to strengthen cooperation with the BIMP-EAGA is focused on large-scale infrastructure projects, it will be difficult to promote those projects efficiently. With the size of Korea's ODA funding, it is not easy to handle multiple large projects at once, and private capital find it hard to participate due to its low profitability. Furthermore, since the infrastructure construction of marine islands requires more capital and technological input, the risk is bound to increase.   Let's leave the construction infrastructure for a while and look at the industrial sector. Exports of natural resources, agricultural and marine products, and tourism have driven the BIMP-EAGA's growth. Along with the development of agriculture, fisheries and manufacturing, support for environmental ecology protection is also important. This is because the BIMP-EAGA region is a treasure trove of marine ecosystems with tropical coastlines and coral reefs covering 60% of the world's total, and is made up of world-class tropical rainforests. Thus, in the context of a transition to a green or circular economy while protecting natural resources, the BIMP-EAGA is focusing on infrastructure and industrial development cooperation.   The transition to a green economy and a circular economy is a priority for both the BIMP-EAGA and Korea. Internal factors, such as sustainable economic development and ecological environment protection, and external factors, such as strengthening environmental regulations in the global market, serve as the main drivers. Brunei has declared that it will achieve net zero by 2050, and Malaysia aims to achieve net zero by 2050, while Indonesia by 2060. The Philippines has not set a deadline for net-zero, but has introduced a greenhouse gas reduction target. The ASEAN Economic Community has also adopted the Framework for Circular Economy for the AEC in 2021, and the ASEAN Taxonomy was unveiled in 2021. On the other hand, Korea has set a goal of net zero by 2050, and to this end, the new government has put forward carbon neutrality and green growth as banners. Transition to a green economy is not an option but a necessity for both Korea and the four BIMP-EAGA countries that are highly dependent on exports, and expansion of renewable energy and securing carbon credits are also urgent tasks.   Mutual cooperation and technology sharing are necessary for Korea and the BIMP-EAGA to transform into a green or circular economy. The green economy is a very comprehensive concept, encompassing various fields such as energy efficiency, eco-friendly transportation, green buildings, waste treatment, and smart agriculture and fisheries. However, the transition to a green economy is not simply developed through campaigns or support measures. Rather, it can be achieved when a technology combining green tech, clean tech, and digital is applied. For instance, artificial intelligence(AI) solutions for marine waste treatment, and smart farm technology using sensors and data for fish farms can help protect the environment while increasing productivity. In the process of mining and smelting cobalt, graphite, and rare earth elements, which are key raw materials for electric vehicle batteries, environmental pollution occurs, and it is not easy to dispose waste batteries. To recycle secondary batteries without causing pollution in the production process, considerable eco-friendly technology development is required along with investment in building automation facilities. Technology in the field of green tech is a necessary factor to revitalize the local economy of the BIMP-EAGA. This is the strength of Korean companies. If Korean tech startups or SMEs participate in the BIMP-EAGA green cooperation project under the support of the Korean government, local partners and local communities in the region can be provided with technical solutions for sustainable growth. Participating Korean companies will acquire richer data and gain experience in entering overseas markets through cooperative projects. If Korean medium-sized and large companies participate, they will receive higher scores in global ESG assessments while contributing to local job creation. In particular, cooperation with the BIMP-EAGA is very important for Korean companies to secure carbon credits. This is because the BIMP-EAGA region has low carbon reduction costs and sufficient conditions for producing afforestation credits.   In foreign policy, it is said that a customized strategy for specific targeted countries is effective. For a customized strategy to work, our strengths must be matched with their needs. The common priority area for Korea and the BIMP-EAGA is the green sector, not large infrastructure. While overcoming the limitations of small funds and contributing to the cause of cooperation in global climate response and solving local problems, would not it then be appropriate to introduce a customized strategy for the ‘Korea-BIMP-EAGA Green Partnership’ to support projects that can provide important opportunities to Korean companies as well?          

BIMP‐EAGA's New Driving Force: From the Periphery to the Center

    Lee Ji‐hyuk (Researcher, the Export‐Import Bank of Korea)     Although the temporary dormancy continues due to the unexpected interruption of the Covid‐19 pandemic, Korea and Southeast Asia have been moving closer in the past few decades through the expansion of Korean companies into Southeast Asia, the Korean wave, and the exchange of tourists and international students. Recently, South Korea has been focusing on Southeast Asia as an alternative to reduce its trade dependence on China and diversify its diplomacy, which has been politically entrenched with its neighbors. This trend extends beyond cooperation between Korea and ASEAN, a regional community, and cooperation between Korea and individual ASEAN countries to the ‘sub‐regions’ of ASEAN. For instance, Mekong river basin countries (Thailand‐Cambodia‐Laos‐Myanmar‐Vietnam) and South Korea formalized the Annual Meeting of Foreign Ministers of the Republic of Korea and Mekong countries in 2011 and the meeting was upgraded it from a ministerial level to a summit level meeting in 2019.   While the Korea‐Mekong summit is a sub‐region encompassing the continental Southeast Asian region and Korea's cooperation, BIMP‐EAGA is on the antipode. The BIMP-EAGA, which may be somewhat unfamiliar even to those familiar with Southeast Asia, refers to the "East ASEAN Growth Area" that connects the borderlands of Brunei (B), Indonesia (I), Malaysia (M), and the Philippines (P) that make up maritime Southeast Asia. At the ASEAN‐ROK Commemorative Summit held in Busan in 2020, as part of the cooperation initiative between Korea and the Marine Southeast Asia sub-region, the Korean government established a cooperation initiative with BIMP‐EAGA and has held two senior officials’ meetings so far.   In the 1990s, ASEAN began to promote economic cooperation between adjacent regions and to establish institutionalized cooperative measures, which devised IMS‐GT, IMT‐GT, BIMP‐EAGA, and GMS based on the concept of subregionalism or so-called multilateralism. Triangles, quadrangles, and even hexagons, which are ‘growth zones’ or ‘geometric metaphors’, combine with the regions to form new sub‐regions. The theoretical underpinning of sub‐regions, designed with the active support of ADB, is based on the concept that ‘the mobilization of complementary factor‐endowment’ can be achieved in adjacent regions that transcend borders. In other words, by procuring scarce resources from adjacent regions across borders, an integrated economic zone would be created, and it would lay the foundation for infrastructure construction, institutional building, and private capital investment. In theory, if there is no external interference and economic complementarities are established, subregions will naturally form due to economic principles.   However, there is a huge gap between theory and reality. Based on ASEAN’s experience, subregions were not formally formed by market principles, but rather by the political declarations of political leaders and the will of the central government. In particular, BIMP‐EAGA is a region with slow development compared to any other sub‐regions in ASEAN. BIMP‐EAGA, officially launched in 1994, includes all of Brunei and Kalimantan, North Sulawesi, Maluku, Papua in Indonesia, Sabah, Sarawak, and Labuan in Malaysia, and Mindanao and Palawan in the Philippines. Except for Brunei, all of the BIMP-EAGA regions are located far from the centers of their respective countries, and have been described as "an association of neglected regions".   Although the regions that make up BIMP-EAGA are close to each other, the geography of the Kisil Archipelago and jungles, as well as the lack of infrastructure, means that realistic travel distances are much greater than physical ones. Moreover, territorial disputes, which often exist between neighboring countries have continued, and there are many difficulties to form economic complementary relationships, prompting an almost absence of exchanges between those regions. It is difficult to carry out infrastructure projects led by local governments without the political determination and financial support of the central government.    However, it does not mean that the BIMP‐EAGA region has remained static for the past 30 years without any changes. BIMP‐EAGA, which was established to solve the socio‐economic problem of the outlying regions away from the center, remained at a standstill for a while during the Asian financial crisis. However, starting with the first summit in 2003, a roadmap, blueprint, and vision were announced to set the direction for development. Shortly after, the direction of development was elaborated by announcing the Roadmap to Development in 2006‐2010, Implementation Blueprint in 2012‐2016, and Vision 2025 in 2017‐2025.   China’s involvement in the BIMP‐EAGA has recently stimulated Japan and Australia, the existing core partners of BIMP‐EAGA, to increase investments and economic support in the region, which has created a competitive dynamic. China signed the framework of cooperation with BIMP‐EAGA as a ‘strategic development partner’ in 2009, but there has been no progress for 10 years. It was only in November 2018 that China wished to establish a more comprehensive and multi‐layered relationship with ASEAN by holding its first ministerial meeting with BIMP‐EAGA, and agreed on the need to strengthen cooperation with each other. In addition to the priority areas identified in the 2009 Cooperation Framework at the Second Ministerial Meeting held a year later, the digital economy and poverty alleviation have been added as new areas of cooperation.   Although the participation and competition of various partner countries have become a new driving force for the development of BIMP‐EAGA, it is only fundamentally an external stimulus. Hence, it is worth paying attention to the relocation of Indonesia's capital as an internal change that will become a new driving force for the development of BIMP‐EAGA. The Indonesian government has selected part of the Penajam Paser Utara region and part of the Kutai Kartanegara region of the eastern Kalimantan province to develop its new capital by 2024. The relocation of Indonesia's capital can be the beginning of a new change that will shake the land axis of BIMP‐EAGA.    The relocation of the Indonesian capital would not only bring a big change to connectivity, which is a chronic problem of BIMP‐EAGA, but above all, it would create an economically complementary relationship between adjacent regions as well. In order for the economic exchanges to work, there must be a motive for exchanging resources with each other. In the meantime, all regions constituting BIMP‐EAGA have become underdeveloped, and due to connectivity issues, transportation and logistics had to bear high costs. In terms of economic effects and market opportunities, the relocation of the capital is expected to bring a trickle‐down effect to neighboring regions beyond borders. Borneo Post, a media outlet in Borneo, describes the relocation of Indonesia's capital as a 'rare opportunity’ for the 'hardly ever comes by' region development. As the center of Indonesia, which has the largest population and market in Southeast Asia, moves, it becomes feasible for BIMP‐EAGA to move away from its status as ASEAN's underdeveloped sub‐region.   The Indonesian government has announced the name for the new capital as ‘Nusantara’. Nusantara is a Malay word meaning the ‘archipelago’ which encompasses Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, and the Philippines. Although the name of Indonesia's new capital, which aims to become the center of Southeast Asia, may sound a bit provocative to neighboring countries, it is expected that it will be an excellent opportunity for the development of BIMP‐EAGA.