South Korea should move to sign a free trade deal with Japan to more effectively deal with growing protectionist trends in the global economy, local economist said Wednesday.
The Trump administration has withdrawn from the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership and blamed the North American Free Trade Agreement and the free trade agreement with South Korea for job losses, triggering concerns over the possibility of Washington withdrawing from the deals or at the very least demanding revisions.
South Korea currently maintains FTAs with more than 50 countries, including the US, China, the European Union and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. These countries account for 68 percent of South Korea's trade.
"The business environment can become more challenging in the coming years due to the growing uncertainties and competitive protectionism," Cheong In-kyo, Inha University vice president, told a seminar in Seoul. "We need to enhance cooperation in Northeast Asia through further multilateral negotiations and jointly addressing excessive supply. Also, the signing of a free trade agreement with Japan will help strengthen bilateral economic cooperation and resolve pending trade issues."
Seo Seok-soong, vice chairman of the Korea-Japan Economic Association, meanwhile, stressed the need for the country to come up with ways to cope with the low birthrate, aging society and the fourth industrial revolution.
The South Korean government launched the fourth-revolution strategy committee in February tasked with spearheading policy making on cloud computing, Internet of Things, production automation and management, as well as reforming the governance system and transforming the economy, society and education areas.
The committee is made up of government officials, experts and business people. (Yonhap)