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New Northern Policy committee seeks progress

Seoul and local governments will seek to secure diverse communication channels with their Russian counterparts to achieve the goals of the Moon Jae-in administration’s New Northern Policy, the presidential committee for the policy said Wednesday.

The New Northern Policy aims to boost economic and political ties with countries to the north of South Korea. It is one of President Moon’s main foreign policy projects, along with the New Southern Policy. 

Chief of New Northern Policy committee Kwon Goo-hoon speaks at the meeting in Seoul on Wednesday. Yonhap
Chief of New Northern Policy committee Kwon Goo-hoon speaks at the meeting in Seoul on Wednesday. Yonhap

The New Northern Policy committee, which convened for the first time in three months Wednesday, discussed ways to strengthen cooperation between the central and local governments on related issues and to increase effectiveness of the related policies.

With representatives of local governments voicing difficulties due to a lack of channels for cooperation and communication with concerned countries, the committee has decided to establish the “New Northern strategy conference” and a working-level group for discussing ways to improve cooperation among the committee and central and local governments.

The committee also reviewed plans to boost cooperation in the Nine Bridges Plan with Russia and to establish working groups for each area with Russian counterparts.

The Nine Bridges Plan refers to nine areas -- gas, rail, port, electricity, arctic shipping route, shipbuilding, industrial complex, agriculture and fisheries industries -- in which Korea seeks stronger ties with Russia.

The meeting also saw central government agencies, including the Ministry of Economy and Finance, Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy and Ministry of Land, Transport and Infrastructure, finalizing their projects.

Under the plans, the Finance Ministry will focus on finalizing plans for increasing economic cooperation with the concerned countries. The Land Ministry will push to establish funds for overseas cooperation in infrastructure projects.

Despite the latest plans, the committee is unlikely to shake off criticism. It has been accused of making little progress, partly due to the actions of its chief Kwon Goo-hoon, a Goldman Sachs economist.

A point of contention from the start has been Kwon holding the post while retaining his position at Goldman Sachs. In addition, he is said to be dedicating less than a third of his time each month for operations of the committee, as he is tied up with Goldman Sachs’ operations overseas.

By Choi He-suk (
Korea Herald daum