President steps up ‘sales diplomacy,’ stresses drive for business-friendly environment
Published : 2013-10-07 21:41
Updated : 2013-10-07 21:41
BALI, Indonesia ― President Park Geun-hye urged Asia-Pacific countries to intensify efforts for free trade to help boost the lackluster global economy during an annual regional summit in Bali, Indonesia, Monday.
Speaking at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, Park stressed the importance of the APEC’s role in removing protectionist policies and shoring up a global trade mechanism.
“As many experts point out, trade liberalization is the most effective, least expensive policy that does not involve any fiscal burden, and can help revitalize the economy, create jobs and enhance benefits for consumers,” she said during her speech.
Park also called on the 21 APEC members to work together to yield progress on the long-stalled negotiations over the Doha Development Agenda, aimed at lowering trade barriers across the world, when the World Trade Organization holds its ministerial-level meeting here in December.
Launched in 2001, the DDA talks have made little progress due to differences between developed and developing countries over agricultural and industrial tariffs, and other sensitive issues.
“If the deadlock over the DDA negotiations continues, doubts may arise over whether the WTO can continue to ensure global trade liberalization, and trust toward a multilateral trading system could also be undermined,” she said.
Touching on the spread of protectionism, particularly after the global financial crisis in 2008, Park called for joint efforts to stem it and strengthening a monitoring system against it.
With regard to a series of envisioned regional free trade pacts including the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Park expressed hopes that all these moves would become “building blocks” to forge the comprehensive “Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific,” which the APEC has been eyeing since 2004.
Having grown into the world’s eighth-largest trader on the back of export-driven policy, South Korea has long championed free trade as a way to facilitate global economic recovery.
During the Group of 20 summit in Russia last month, Park also emphasized the need to step up efforts in clearing trade hurdles, while exerting a middle-power diplomacy to coordinate between developed and developing countries.
Park arrived in Bali on Sunday to attend the APEC summit. Launched in 1989, the organization has 21 member economies in the Asia-Pacific region including the U.S., Taiwan, Canada, Mexico, Chile and Peru.
The APEC is the largest regional confidence-building and policy coordination entity with its member economies accounting for 58 percent of the world’s gross domestic product and 49 percent of world trade.
Earlier in the day during the APEC Business Advisory Council, Park revved up her sales diplomacy. Vowing to continue to make her country business-friendly, she explained to the council Seoul’s efforts to improve business environments for foreign investors, particularly in terms of its regulatory regime.
Speaking of the ongoing government efforts to transform Korea’s regulatory regime from a “positive” system to a “negative” one, Park underscored that the reform moves were to be applied to foreign companies as well, without discrimination.
A positive system specifies which activities are allowed. Negative systems are more liberal, allowing all activities in principle except for those specifically banned.
The advisory panel is an official civilian entity that listens to APEC leaders’ opinions as to the progress on free trade and investment, and their future policy directions, and offers proposals made by regional entrepreneurs.
During the council session, Park touched on the importance of business innovation, a centerpiece of her “creative economy” drive, to help overcome barriers in four major areas ― regulations, financing, education and national boundaries.
On the second day of the APEC summit on Tuesday, Park is to discuss with the vision of connectivity in the APEC and sustainable growth.
Enhancing connectivity through physical infrastructure such as traffic networks, regulatory and institutional reforms and exchanges among experts have been crucial tasks to promote free trade and regional integration.
By Song Sang-ho, Korea Herald correspondent (firstname.lastname@example.org)