S. Korea seeks global alliance against trade protectionism

Jan 29, 2018, 08:41 am

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By AsiaToday reporter Choi Won-young

South Korean Trade Minister Kim Hyun-chong, who flew to Davos in search of countermeasures against the US trade protectionism, is seeking a global alliance. His idea is to gather members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) to jointly file a petition to the WTO on the US trade protectionism while making a multi-country agreement to build a new trade ecosystem. As a result, the trade war between the United States and the free-trade-based countries is expected to begin in earnest.

According to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy on Sunday, Kim was promised international cooperation and strengthening of multilateral trade system from many countries at the unofficial trade ministerial meeting held at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, that ended on Friday. There has been a lot of consensus for the spread of free trade among countries before, but many point out that the prevailing view is that it was the first time that criticism over trade protectionism had been heard as much as in the Davos Forum.

In particular, US President Donald Trump told Davos that "trade practices have been unfair" and declared that the United States would take part in full-fledged trade protectionism, triggering a global trade war.

Kim met with WTO members in Davos. Among them, he proposed Canada and Australia to start concrete cooperation for the multi-country agreement. Canada, which is proceeding with six WTO complaints with the US regarding anti-dumping and countervailing duties, agreed to cooperate closely with Korea complaints to the WTO with respect to the US safeguard measures on Korean washing machines and solar panels.

Kim also stressed the sense of crisis on the vacancy of members of the WTO Appellate Body, deriving alignment to the need for the quick appointment of the members. Despite the fact that the Appellate Body is already down from its allotted number of seven members to four, the opposition of the US is delaying the process of appointing new members. "Measures that violate the current WTO rules need to be rectified through dispute resolution procedures," Kim said. "We must strengthen the dispute resolution mechanism, which is also referred to as the crown jewels of the WTO, to develop a norm-based multilateral trading system."

For this, the EU, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, Hong Kong and Pakistan expressed their support.

The South Korean government's active attempt to form an alliance with other countries is due to its concerns that protectionism, mainly centered on the United States, might be in full swing this year and even spread to other countries.

In fact, Trump is likely to politically utilize America First policy until the congressional elections on November 6, according to a report released by the Korea International Trade Association on Sunday.

The bigger problem is that the protectionism trend is not limited to the US, but it's likely to spread to major countries such as the EU and Japan.

An official from the KITA said, "Enterprises, governments and relevant organizations need to cooperate together in coping with trade protectionism. We need to use the WTO dispute resolution procedure if necessary and utilize all diplomatically available channels to support our enterprises."

#S. Korea #Kim Hyun-chong #trade minister #trade protectionism #US 
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