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S. Korea’s financial chiefs off to Washington for G-20 summit

Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Kim Dong-yeon on Wednesday left for Washington to attend a series of economic meetings including the Group of 20 summit of financial ministers and central bank governors.

During his six-day visit, the top financial policymaker is expected to seek progress in key US-related issues, such as the renegotiation of the Korea-US Free Trade Agreement, and reiterate bilateral partnership in responding to North Korea’s military threats.

Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Kim Dong-yeon departs from Incheon Airport for Washington on Wednesday. (Yonhap)
Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Kim Dong-yeon departs from Incheon Airport for Washington on Wednesday. (Yonhap)

Accompanied by Bank of Korea Gov. Lee Ju-yeol, Kim will be attending the G-20 ministerial summit, as well as the annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund and of the World Bank, and an International Monetary Fund Commission meeting, before returning home Monday, officials said.

On the sidelines, Kim will meet with his counterparts including US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and hold bilateral talks with World Bank President Kim Yong and Peterson Institute for International Economics President Adam Posen.

“Kim and Mnuchin will discuss ways to strengthen the economic and financial partnership between the two countries, as well as their policy cooperation concerning North Korea,” ministry officials said.

South Korea’s finance minister will also meet with global chiefs of the top three credit rating agencies -- Moody’s, Standard & Poor’s and Fitch -- to present the Moon Jae-in government’s economic policy direction and demand that they maintain Korea’s credit rating.

The greatest risk factor for financial and monetary chiefs during their US visit is the heightening military tension between Washington and Pyongyang.

Chung Eui-yong, national security chief at the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae, said late last month that the North is likely to carry out an additional provocation around Oct. 10 or Oct. 18, possibly by launching a long-range missile.

The deputy prime minister is also expected to lay the groundwork for the upcoming renegotiation process of the bilateral free trade deal, ahead of US President Donald Trumps visit to Korea next month.

“The (Korean) government has so far held the (FTA renegotiation) talks based on national interest and will continue to do so,” Kim said.

“I urge (government departments) to respond to the issue in one (unified) voice and with confidence.”

Another underlying task for the top officials is to make sure that the US government does not designate South Korea as an exchange rate manipulator, though the possibility remains low.

The result is to be included in the US Treasury Department’s half-year report, which will be announced as early as Friday.

By Bae Hyun-jung(