Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee (Yonhap)
South Korea's trade minister said Wednesday the country will continue to promote open trade amid growing protectionism in the aftermath of the new coronavirus pandemic, calling for major trade partners to join efforts to normalize the virus-hit global supply chains.
"In the post-pandemic era, the global environment for trade and commerce will change drastically," Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee said during a videoconference with experts around the globe, hosted by the Korea International Trade Association (KITA).
"Each country will move toward economic nationalism, and the global supply chain will also be reorganized. The world will also experience the transition to the digital economy," Yoo added.
In the face of such challenging times, the trade minister said countries must reconnect with each other by allowing business officials to travel while seeking to revitalize the global trade of goods and services.
The remarks came as the COVID-19 pandemic, which has infected at least 5.5 million across the globe, has virtually suspended international travel, dragging down export-oriented economies such as South Korea.
During the conference, Deputy Director-General Alan Wolff of the World Trade Organization (WTO) echoed the view, saying the global body will make efforts to promote the travel of essential workforce while abolishing unnecessary trade regulations.
South Korea reiterated that the world should establish new guidelines under which countries can maintain normal trade even in the case of emergencies, such as the coronavirus pandemic.
The country's exports are expected to dip nearly 23 percent in May from a year earlier and to post a trade deficit for the second consecutive month, a poll showed earlier.
Outbound shipments of South Korea had fallen 24 percent on-year in April, when it suffered the first monthly trade deficit since 2012. (Yonhap)