South Korea and France aim to boost ties amid uncertainty under Trump

By Yeo Jun-suk
  • Published : Mar 30, 2017 - 16:02
  • Updated : Mar 30, 2017 - 18:04
South Korea and France need to consolidate security and economic ties amid uncertainty over future relations between the US and China under the Donald Trump administration, said the two countries’ senior officials and business leaders Thursday.

With President Trump posing a challenge to the postwar liberal order by adopting a series of protectionist and isolationist policies, the panel urged the countries to present a unified front in navigating through looming challenges.

Trade Minister Joo Hyung-hwan delivers a keynote speech during a forum luncheon held as part of the third  Korea-France High-Level Dialogue in Seoul on Thursday. (Yonhap)

“It seems to me that the new US administration is heading in the opposite direction. It is totally different from the policy that the previous administration has taken for the past decades,” Jean-Daniel Tordjman, a secretary-general of the Korea-France Club, said at the third Korea-France High Level Dialogue.

The Korea-France Club’s Chairman Hong Seok-hyun, a former media mogul who managed local daily JoongAng Ilbo and cable news channel JTBC, stressed both countries should brace for an “unpredictable era” where the US backs away from free trade despite opposition from even protectionist China.

The forum was attended by high-profile figures in business, government and academics. Among them were Korean Air Chairman and CEO Cho Yang-ho, Trade Minister Joo Hyung-hwan, French Ambassador to South Korea Fabien Penone and Stephane Israel, CEO of Arianespace, a satellite launch services company.

Some South Korean business leaders asked their French counterparts for policy know-how on how to counter trade retaliations from China, who took measures against South Korean companies over the government’s decision to deploy a US advanced anti-missile system here.

“I’m wondering how France dealt with Chinese trade retaliation during the Carrefour crisis,” Hwang Gak-kyu, head of the Lotte Corporate Innovation Office, said, citing the time when the French retail chain faced protests in 2008 over the allegation the French government supported the independence of Tibet.

Lotte’s retail stores across China were forced to shut down after they reached a land-swap deal with the military to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system. China has bitterly opposed the deployment, which it sees as a threat to its own security.

By Yeo Jun-suk (