Anchor: South Korea plans to emphasize free trade and co-prosperity at an upcoming special group summit with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations(ASEAN) in Busan in November. There is expectation that Seoul may use the forum as an opportunity to garner support for its side in the ongoing trade row with Tokyo.
Celina Yoon has more.
Report: South Korea is looking to put an emphasis on free trade at an upcoming special summit with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations(ASEAN) in November.
During a press briefing Monday on preparations 100 days prior to the start of the event, senior economic aide to the president Joo Hyung-chul said the special summit will be a venue to discuss the expansion and strengthening of free trade.
[Sound bite: Joo Hyung-chul - economic aide to President Moon Jae-in (Korean)]
"At the special summit, South Korea and the ASEAN countries will solidify their will to open markets, expand trade, strengthen the free trade order and explore ways for shared prosperity through mutual cooperation against the backdrop of recent international situations where trade conflicts and protectionist trends are deepening."
Regarding the possibility of the South Korea-Japan trade row being discussed at the summit, Joo said that ASEAN agrees on the importance of free trade, as shown in the ASEAN Plus Three Foreign Ministers' Meeting held in Bangkok earlier this month.
Joo said it's “difficult to say” how the dispute will unfold before the summit starts, but there will be discussions on the matter as it is important to maintaining the international free trade system.
In July, Japan introduced export restrictions on three key high-tech material exports to South Korea, and will remove South Korea from a list of preferential trade partners later this month.
The moves are widely understood to be retaliation for recent South Korean Supreme Court rulings ordering some Japanese firms to compensate Korean victims of forced labor during World War II.
South Korea responded with its own restrictions on Japanese imports and has introduced a new tiered trade partner category system that may further raise barriers for Japanese exporters.
Seoul may use the upcoming ASEAN summit to recruit support for its interpretation of the trade dispute but has stressed that it hopes to smoothly resolve the issue through dialogue.
The heads of the ten ASEAN member states and the organization’s secretary-general, Dato Lim Jock Hoi, are expected to attend the special summit, the second in Busan and third to be hosted by South Korea.
The event is scheduled to open on November 25 with a special dinner hosted by President Moon Jae-in followed by summit meetings on November 26.
Celina Yoon, KBS World Radio News.