President Yoon Suk Yeol pledged Tuesday efforts to establish norms in emerging trade sectors, such as digital trade, in a meeting with Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala of the World Trade Organization in Seoul.
Okonjo-Iweala arrived in South Korea on Monday for a three-day stay for talks with senior government officials and business leaders on the roles of the WTO and South Korea in revitalizing the multilateral trading system and addressing other challenges to global trade.
During the meeting at the presidential office in central Seoul, Yoon said South Korea is the nation that benefited the most from the free trade system championed by the WTO, and that any fractures in the system would be detrimental to the country.
The president also stated that South Korea "is willing to join hands with the WTO in efforts to establish new trade norms, such as those for digital trade, in line with the changed trade environment."
The WTO chief responded to Yoon's remarks on the necessity of new digital trade norms saying they were very timely. She also said a decoupling of the world economy and its division into blocs would lead to a fall of up to 5 percent in global gross domestic product over the long term.
Okonjo-Iweala also requested South Korea pay more attention to Africa in connection with the diversification of supply chains.
Yoon said he has been placing great importance on diplomacy with Africa and pledged the country "plans to invest more in the development of Africa down the road."
Earlier in the day, the WTO chief held a meeting with Foreign Minister Park Jin and discussed the imperative of repairing the multilateral trade system.
During the meeting at the ministry headquarters in Seoul, Okonjo-Iweala said tension between the United States and China is endangering the rules-based global free trade order and asked South Korea to play a pivotal role in restoring the multilateral trading system and the functions of the WTO, according to the foreign ministry.
Park responded that the role of the WTO is more important than ever at a time when the global community is faced with various challenges, such as geopolitical tensions and the restructuring of global supply chains.