S.Korea calls for unified voice against protectionism at Asia-Europe meeting

Source:Xinhua Published: 2017/9/22 14:03:17

South Korea's trade minister on Friday called for a unified voice against protectionism on the second day of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) economic ministers' meeting hosted by the country.

"The global economy faces new challenges. Protectionism is rising, and industries around the world are undergoing fundamental structural changes," Minster of Trade, Industry and Energy Paik Un-gyu said during an opening remark for the 7th ASEM economic ministers' meeting.

The 7th meeting was held for the two-day run in Seoul. The ASEM was launched in 1996 to promote trade and investment between Asian and European countries.

Attending the Seoul meeting were about 250 senior trade officials, including trade ministers and vice trade ministers, from about 20 Asian and 31 European nations.

The ASEM members account for almost 60 percent of global gross domestic product (GDP) and about 70 percent of global trade.

The South Korean trade minister said ASEM economic ministers should speak with a unified voice in support of the multilateral trading system and against protectionism considering that ASEM members were the largest beneficiaries of free trade.

Meanwhile, South Korean Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon stressed the importance of free trade in the world economy, saying in his welcoming speech that free trade will be indispensable for the global economy to be able to continue to grow.

Lee said the first and most important challenge facing the world economy was the slump in trade coming from the advent of the protectionist moves, which would serve as the long-term risk factors to the global economic recovery.

The prime minister also asked for the concerted efforts from the Asian and European officials to tackle rising threats from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).

Lee said the DPRK's nuclear program posed a threat to security in the world as well as in South Korea and Northeast Asia, noting that his country has closely cooperated with the international community to sternly deal with the issue.

Tensions escalated on the Korean Peninsula after the DPRK's sixth nuclear test on Sept. 3 and its subsequent test-launch of an intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) that flew over Japan and landed in the Northern Pacific.

The UN Security Council adopted a new resolution toughening sanctions on Pyongyang over its sixth nuclear test, which was seen as the most powerful one ever conducted by Pyongyang.


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