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[ASEAN-Korea summit] Seoul created momentum for regional trade liberalization: minister

BUSAN -- Industry Minister Sung Yun-mo said Monday that South Korea had created momentum for the liberalization of regional trade and cooperation through the 2019 ASEAN-ROK Commemorative Summit.

Speaking to reporters at the summit venue in Busan, Sung said free trade and multilateralism were currently facing challenges, including a trade war between the US and China as well as Japan’s economic restrictions against Korea. 


Industry Minister Sung Yun-mo delievers a welcome remark during the 2019 ASEAN-ROK CEO Summit, held at Bexco in Busan on Monday. (Yonhap)
Industry Minister Sung Yun-mo delievers a welcome remark during the 2019 ASEAN-ROK CEO Summit, held at Bexco in Busan on Monday. (Yonhap)

“Amid the ongoing trade friction, it is very meaningful that Korea and ASEAN countries are expanding their scope of cooperation in multilateralism by reaching a consensus for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership free trade agreement,” he said.

The RCEP pact is being negotiated among the 10 Association of Southeast Asian members and their five free trade agreement partners: Korea, China, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.

At the recent RCEP Summit on Nov. 4, the participating leaders concluded an agreement on the RCEP and agreed to sign it next year.

The RCEP is expected to form one of the world’s largest trading blocs, accounting for one-third of the world’s population and global gross domestic product.

“Taking a step forward, we created opportunities to vitalize mutual cooperation through this commemorative summit and the task we have now is how to lead this momentum to a practical outcome,” Sung said.

Regarding the recent decision by Korea and Japan to resume dialogue on Tokyo’s restrictions on the export of industrial materials vital for Seoul’s chip and display industries, Sung said the ministry hoped to start working-level contacts with Japan soon and arrange talks with Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry at an early date.

On Friday, Cheong Wa Dae decided to pause its escalating diplomatic and economic tension with Japan and conditionally suspend the cancellation of a military intelligence-sharing accord with Japan. It also halted its petition with the World Trade Organization against Japan’s export curbs as the two countries agreed to seek a resolution through working-level dialogue.

By Park Han-na (hnpark@heraldcorp.com
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