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Moon urges early conclusion of RCEP talks, increased cooperation with Singapore

2018/07/12 17:37

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SINGAPORE, July 12 (Yonhap) -- South Korean President Moon Jae-in called for efforts to further expand economic cooperation between his country and Singapore, also calling for joint efforts to promote free trade in the region and the world.

"The foundation of our countries' economic growth is free trade and open market. Singapore and South Korea are open countries and free trade nations, and therefore must join their strength to stop the spread of trade protectionism," the South Korean president said in a business forum attended by some 300 government officials and business leaders from both countries.

The forum followed Moon's summit with Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, in which the leaders vowed efforts to conclude the prolonged negotiations for a regional free trade agreement (FTA), known as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), before the year's end.

The move comes amid an apparent spread of trade protectionism, as well as an unprecedented trade war between the world's two largest economies: the United States and China.

"Today, our two countries agreed to cooperate on the conclusion of RCEP negotiations within the year. The most important issue in RCEP negotiations is not the level of market liberalization but its timing. By concluding the negotiations at the earliest date possible, we may be able to create a new wave in global trade amid a spread of trade protectionism," Moon told the forum.

Currently, 16 countries are taking part in RCEP negotiations. They are South Korea, China, Japan, India, Australia, New Zealand and all 10 member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) that includes Singapore.

If signed, RCEP is expected to be one of the largest regional free trade pacts with its member states accounting for half of global production and 29 percent of global trade in 2016.

The South Korean president also pledged efforts to improve his country's relationship with Singapore.

To this end, Moon stressed the need for the countries to jointly develop new growth engines to prepare for the fourth industrial revolution.

"We should be able to create a great synergy by combining Singapore's ability to innovate and financial resources with South Korea's world-class information-communication technology," Moon said.

He also stressed the need to make sure such efforts will help improve the livelihood of people in both countries.

bdk@yna.co.kr

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