Published : 2013-10-14 18:57
Updated : 2013-10-14 18:57
South Korean President Park Geun-hye and her Indonesian counterpart Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono agreed to conclude an accord on a comprehensive economic partnership between the two countries by the end of the year during their summit in Jakarta last week. The conclusion of the pact is expected to further boost mutual ties that have already made big strides in recent years. It seems within their reach to achieve the ambitious goal of increasing the bilateral trade volume from $29.6 billion last year to $100 billion in 2020.
As Yudhoyono rightly noted during a joint news conference with Park after their summit, history has taught us that economic cooperation between South Korea and Indonesia benefits both sides and the two countries are sure to overcome whatever challenges they may face in expanding partnership.
Seoul and Jakarta were apparently satisfied with the results of the summit. It would have been more desirable if the joint statement issued after the talks between the leaders had mentioned both countries’ commitment to contributing more to the international community. Enhanced collaboration on some global issues will make ties between Seoul and Jakarta more comprehensive and meaningful, lifting them to a higher dimension.
South Korea and Indonesia were among the five middle-power countries whose foreign ministers met on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in New York on Sept. 25 to form a new consultative body aimed at coordinating and increasing their roles on the global stage. The other three nations were Mexico, Turkey and Australia.
The ministers shared the view that the five countries need to launch a mechanism for cooperation to address the challenges facing the international community, which are becoming more diverse and complex.
It may be too early to predict whether this group, called MIKTA, which was coined by combining the initials of the names of the participating countries, will function as envisioned and gain influence in the long term. But it should be welcomed for them to combine their efforts to contribute to global governance, based on their shared interests and stances on development cooperation, climate change, nuclear disarmament, democratization and other matters.
The immediate test for the group may come when its members seek to work together to make G20 discussions more balanced and focused on specific issues. Over the longer term, they may assume a bridging role between advanced and less developed countries with different views on global issues, and help establish a better world order.
Of them, South Korea, with its experience of ascending from the ashes of the 1950-53 Korean War to the status as a major industrial power, is seen as better positioned to play such a role.
MIKTA can also serve as a platform for Seoul to expand its diplomatic horizons by actively engaging in multilateral middle-power diplomacy. Despite its economic growth and democratization, South Korea’s diplomacy has largely been framed by an alliance with the U.S. and ties with other neighboring powers ― China, Japan and Russia ― under the shadow of military threats from North Korea. The country’s alignment with other middle-power democracies may help maximize its potential as a friendly and valuable partner with the rest of the world, which will in turn further heighten its international profile and leverage in handling ties with its immediate neighbors.
Among MIKTA members, South Korea and Indonesia are closer geographically and more complementary in their industrial structures and external relations. It should be their eventual vision to enhance their partnership beyond boosting mutual benefits to working together on global causes.