Monday, June 14, 2010

Interview: Minister of Foreign Affairs & Trade, Mr. Yu Myung-hwan

In an exclusive interview, Minister of Foreign Affairs & Trade Mr. Yu Myung-hwan spoke on the foreign policy orientation of the present government and the plans for the future.Excerpts:

>In today's increasingly globalizing world, new threats such as global financial crisis, terrorism, climate change, proliferation of WMD, pandemic diseases, etc. are emerging in addition to existing traditional security threats. As the new challenges have impact on every corner of the world, they present a clear need for the international community to work together in more cooperative and coordinated manners.
As a responsible shareholder in the international community, Korea's place in the changing environment calls for active role in addressing global common challenges. Korea, as one of emerging economies full of dynamics and equipped with democratic system, is poised to participate more actively and furnish greater contribution in global affairs.
>Against this backdrop, Korea envisions an open, dynamic and advanced "Global Korea" in the 21st century that would actively engage and cooperate with the international community and contribute to enhancing peace and co-prosperity of the world, transcending the boundaries of the Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia.
>For the year 2010, the Korean government has set the following key foreign policy tasks in order to make rapid strides toward bringing into reality its vision of "Global Korea"
>Korea will continue to broaden the horizon of its diplomatic relations beyond Asia. President Lee will make visits to the Middle East, Africa, Latin America and Europe this year, following the "New Asia Initiative" which was adopted and actively implemented last year. In particular, the President will work toward establishing a "Strategic Partnership" with the EU upon the conclusion of the Korea-EU FTA and the Korea-EU Framework Agreement before the end of this year. The President has also actively engaged in global governance dialogues by attending the WEF Forum in Davos and the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington D.C, and in the same context will attend the upcoming Shangri-la Dialogue in Singapore and the G20 Summit in Canada next month.
>The Fifth G20 Summit in Seoul will pave the way for institutionalizing the G20 Summit as a truly premier forum for international economic cooperation. The successful hosting of this Summit will provide a good opportunity to  reaffirm Korea’s place and role as a responsible shareholder in tackling and resolving important issues of the international community. To this end, the Presidential Committee for the G20 Summit is working closely with relevant government ministries and agencies to best prepare for the upcoming event in November.
>Korea will strive to increase its contribution to international development cooperation as a new OECD DAC member state. Furthermore, Korea will contribute to enhancing international efforts for peace-building and reconstruction of failed states through its expanded participation in UN PKO missions and operation of such PRT missions as in Afghanistan.
>Within this context, priorities will still be given to seeking substantial progress in resolving the North Korean nuclear issue, maintaining peace and stability within the Korean peninsula, consolidating strategic relations with neighboring countries, providing support to create new engines of growth and strengthening future-oriented diplomatic capabilities and infrastructure to cope with the rapidly changing diplomatic environment of the 21st century.
>In response to the rapid proliferation of FTAs throughout the world, Korea has been actively pursuing its ambitious FTA policy since the conclusion of the first FTA in 2003 with Chile, and concluded high-level FTAs with major economies such as United States and the European Union(EU). As of June 2010, Korea has implemented five FTAs with sixteen nations, namely, Chile, Singapore, EFTA, ASEAN and India. In particular, the Korea-India CEPA(Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement), Korea’s first FTA with a BRICs country, entered into force on January 1
Korea is currently negotiating FTAs with eight trading partners: Australia, Peru, Colombia, Turkey, GCC, New Zealand, Canada and Mexico. Prior to launching official negotiations, Korea is also conducting preliminary talks or joint research projects with prospective partners, including China, Japan, MERCOSUR, Israel, Russia and Viet Nam. In particular, Korea, China and Japan started this May a joint feasibility study on a possible trilateral FTA.
This year, Korea is making great efforts to complete the on-going FTA negotiations, especially those with Australia, Peru, Colombia and Turkey. Korea aims to increase the share of the preferential trade with FTA partners up to 50% of its total trade in the near future, and by doing so, to become the East Asia hub in the global FTA network.
>The world economy, which suffered the worst global economic crisis since the Great Depression in the 1930s, has overcome the crisis through active international cooperation through the G20.
The recovery has been faster than expected and the G20, which was launched in response to the economic crisis, is now seeking a new role. The G20 Seoul Summit will be held in this transition phase and has the opportunity to expand its role from that of crisis response to that of the management of the post-crisis global economy, solidifying its legitimacy as the premier forum for international economic cooperation.
For this purpose, the Seoul Summit will promote sustainable and balanced growth of the world economy, faithfully executing the G20’s goal of an international financial system that can prevent a recurrence of a crisis and strive for balanced economic growth that includes developing and emerging economies.
In this process, Korea is strengthening its cooperation with G20 countries and will also closely cooperate with non-G20 countries through outreach activities. It is expected that this will be an opportunity for Korea to expand its contribution, with the concerted efforts of the international community, to address global issues.
>The EU is now Korea's most significant partner in the economic field, as our second largest partner in trade volume and number one in investment. The Korea-EU trade volume accounts for 11.5% of Korea's total trade in 2009 and the EU investment into Korea during the same period accounts for 46% of the total inflow of investment into Korea.
In order to upgrade the Korea-EU relations to a Strategic Partnership, Korea and the EU agreed to conclude the "Framework Agreement" and the "FTA" on the occasion of the Korea-EU Summit in May last year.Now that the Framework Agreement has been signed, I look forward to the formal signing and entry into force of the Korea-EU FTA in the near future.
Moreover, the Korea-EU FTA will also serve as an important demonstration of the commitment on the part of Korea and the EU to trade liberalization,standing against protectionism in these times of global economic difficulties.And yet if Korea and the EU really are to forge a strategic partnership, in the true sense of the word, the European business community has a crucial role to play, particularly since we live in a time in which the economic and trade relations between countries are assuming ever increasing importance.In this respect, I hope for your continued interest and support for the Framework Agreement to take effect as well as for the FTA's formal signing and entry into force. These will indeed be valuable steps towards developing the Korea-EU relations into a genuine strategic partnership, not just in name but in reality.