S. Korean finance minister warns against protectionism

By Yonhap
  • Published : Apr 21, 2018 - 10:54
  • Updated : Apr 21, 2018 - 10:57

South Korea's chief economic policymaker warned Friday that rising trade protectionism by major countries poses risks to global economic growth, calling for concerted efforts to promote free trade.

Finance Minister Kim Dong-yeon made the remarks during a meeting of finance ministers and central bankers from Group of 20 advanced economies in Washington. They gathered for the annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.

Finance Minister Kim Dong-yeon (Yonhap)

"Protectionism will worsen the existing trade disputes and could depress the global economy," Kim Dong-yeon said during a global economy session on Friday (local time).

Tensions over trade have grown recently with steel and aluminum tariff 
imposed by the U.S. last month. President Donald Trump's administration has exempted South Korea from 25 percent tariffs on steel imports while the two countries reached an agreement in principle last month on revising their free trade pact. The European Union and some other countries were temporarily exempted until May 1.

There also has been an escalation of tit-for-tat responses between the U.S. and China after Trump announced plans for tariffs up to $60 billion on Chinese imports.

Kim also warned against the rapidly tightening the monetary policy in major economies, which could have a bigger impact in emerging economies and lead to financial imbalances, and called for efforts to improve transparency in the foreign exchange market. 

Seoul is considering the detailed disclosure of its actions on the foreign exchange market as part of a broader move to boost transparency and clear itself of suspicion of exercising undue influence on exchange rates.

Last week, Washington kept South Korea on its "monitoring list" but did not designate it as a currency manipulator. (Yonhap)