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S. Korean trade minister, WTO chief discuss restoring multilateralism amid pandemic

Trade Minister Yeo Han-koo speaks during a meeting in Seoul on Monday. (Yonhap)
Trade Minister Yeo Han-koo speaks during a meeting in Seoul on Monday. (Yonhap)
South Korea’s newly appointed Trade Minister Yeo Han-koo on Wednesday exchanged ideas with World Trade Organization Director General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on how to restore multilateralism in global trade amid intensifying protectionism triggered by the pandemic.

According to the Trade Ministry, during the virtual meeting, which was arranged at the request of the WTO, Yeo stressed that the upcoming 12th Ministerial Conference at the WTO set for Nov. 30 would be a chance to yield tangible results for rebuilding multilateralism.

“As the COVID-19 outbreak is taking a toll on the world economy and the daily lives of individuals, the WTO should become more relevant in overcoming the pandemic,” Yeo was quoted as saying by the ministry.

Yeo further said that discussions on multilateralism could be built on vaccine cooperation. In December, countries including Korea, Japan and the European Union bloc handed in a Trade and Health Initiative to the WTO urging members to refrain from imposing unnecessary restrictions on the trade of medical goods.

Okonjo-Iweala took office in March after winning a two-way final round of the competition over Yeo’s predecessor, Yoo Myung-hee.

By Kim Byung-wook (
Korea Herald Youtube