Jakarta. The numerous corporate social responsibility initiatives —commonly abbreviated as CSR— carried out by South Korean companies in the Asean region play a pivotal role in strengthening diplomatic relations.
Last year, South Korean President Moon Jae-in unveiled the New Southern Policy Plus, an upgraded version of his signature foreign diplomacy initiative to bolster ties with Asean.
"The New Southern Policy Plus lays out seven key areas of cooperation to meet the demands of Asean partners, and stresses the importance of expanding CSR and local community empowerment," Lim Sungnam, the South Korean ambassador to Asean, told an online conference on Thursday.
At least 17,000 South Korean companies are currently operating in the Asean region.
"Many have engaged in various CSR programs, with the belief that business activities can thrive only when closely linked with the local communities," he said.
Over the past decade, the South Korean Foreign Ministry has been putting great emphasis on companies' CSR initiatives, according to Miyon Lee, the ministry's director-general for bilateral economic affairs.
"[Such as] by providing our business community a platform to share best practices and relevant information, as well as incentives and support in their CSR activities," Miyon said.
During the online discussion, several South Korean companies showcased their CSR commitment in the Asean region. Among them is Posco, a Korean steelmaker with operations in Indonesia.
Posco is lending a hand to Indonesia's fight against Covid-19.
The company donated medical equipment worth $250,000 to the Indonesian government and the Korean community residing in Indonesia. It also provided protective masks and test kits worth $1 million to local communities.
"We also provide medical oxygen support [by] reducing the oxygen inventory, held by Krakatau-Posco's steel mill," Posco Indonesia deputy representative president Park Yong Nam told the conference.
Asean-South Korea total trade amounted to $143.8 billion in the pandemic-ridden 2020. That makes Asean South Korea's second-largest trading partner, according to Miyon.