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  • Continuous Talk on Mega-FTAs and New Multilateral Trade Norms Required to Overcome Protectionism

    Continuous Talk on Mega-FTAs and New Multilateral Trade Norms Required to Overcome Protectionism


         -   Korean and foreign scholars attended 2017 International Conference on Trade and Industry voiced against protectionism  -




    The Korea International Trade Association held the '2017 International Conference on Trade and Industry' at COEX, Seoul, on November 6, Monday, in cooperation with the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.


    Many Korean and international trade experts and ambassadors from major countries participated in this year’s conference. Under the theme of ‘A New Cooperation Paradigm for Realizing Free and Inclusive Trade,’ the participants discussed the intergovernmental cooperation measures to eliminate protectionism and continue the free trade trends as well as the inclusive trade policies to evenly share the benefits of free trade. More than 500 people from foreign diplomatic missions in Korea, Korean and foreign companies and academia took part in the event and expressed great interest.



    Kim Jung-kwan, vice chairman of the Korea International Trade Association, explained in his opening speech "Protectionism in trade cannot be a solution to solve and overcome the problems such as job decline and economic growth slowdown. It is important to realize inclusive trade that fairly distributes benefits of free trade through the competitiveness improvement and technological development with the participation of developing countries, small and medium-sized enterprises, and the underprivileged.” In order to do so, he stressed “The enterprises should be armed with innovation and competitiveness through free trade and create more quality jobs, and the government should provide opportunities for small and medium-sized companies who are stuck in the domestic market to grow through trade."


    Deputy Minister Kang Sung-chun of the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy emphasized in his welcoming speech that in order to keep up with the momentum of global trade recovery, it is necessary to overcome protectionism, promote competition and innovation in preparation for the fourth industrial revolution, and implement the policies that will enable all the parties to enjoy the benefits of free trade.


    Professor Peter Petri of Brandeis University, the keynote speaker of the Session 1, explained that under the circumstance that the US, which has been advocating free trade, is turning its trade policy to focus on trade balance and taking protective trade measures, it is necessary for the Asia-Pacific region to become the main force to accelerate market opening and develop trade norms with a view to continuing global liberalization of trade in the future. In this context, he suggested specific figures on the positive economic effects that could be created when the 11 countries who signed the TPP Agreement that the US withdrew and the 16 Asian countries who signed the RCEP Agreement realize the trade liberalization of the region.



    The senior economist Robert Coopman at the WTO said that the world trade system has developed through integration and globalization over the past 30 to 35 years and anticipated that there will be a bigger change, which is completely different from the past, over the next 30 years due to the development of technology. In particular, he stressed that in order to minimize the income disparity caused by the rapid technological development and trade, it is important to focus on the education as well as policy support for the workers to adjust themselves to the changes in technology.


    Professor James Bacchus of University of Central Florida, who was a founder member of the WTO Appellate Body and a former member of the US House of Representatives, stated that the WTO multilateral trade agreement, which liberalizes barriers to trade indiscriminately, is the best way to bring economic benefits to all. In addition, he mentioned that bilateral and interregional trade agreements can help to realize inclusive trade through new trade norms.



    Jeffrey Schott, a senior research fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE) said that under the current unstable trade circumstance, the role of the Big Four, including the US, China, the EU and Japan, which account for about 40 percent of the world's entire trade, is important. He stressed that the Big Four should lead the participation of developing countries by actively promoting plurilaterals at the WTO level, such as e-commerce, government procurement transparency, and dispute settlement process reforms. In this regard, he added that since South Korea has concluded high-level free trade agreements with both the US and the EU, the country could actively participate in the multilateral agreements.


    In the Session 2, Lee Sang-jin, Deputy Minister for Trade Negotiations of the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, Mari Kiviniemi, Deputy Secretary-General of the OECD, and Ambassadors from Canada, Singapore, Australia and EU discussed ‘Intergovernmental Cooperation Measures for the Proliferation of Free Trade Agreements.’


    Deputy Minister Lee Sang-jin said that the international community needs to make more joint efforts as the protectionist measures still remain at high level despite of the efforts to eliminate protectionism through multilateral cooperation such as G20, APEC and WTO. Deputy Secretary General Mari Kiviniemi of OECD agreed with Korea’s policy direction and proposed   proposed to create a more free and fair trade system by integrating policy efforts of each country. Eric Walsh, the Canadian Ambassador to the Republic of Korea, Yip Wei Kiat, Singapore's Ambassador to the Republic of Korea, James Choi, Australian Ambassador to the Republic of Korea, and Michael Reiterer, the Ambassador of the European Union to the Republic of Korea have agreed to support the multilateral system and elimination of protectionism and to push forward trade liberalization.

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