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Written Interview with President Park Geun-hye by The Jakarta Post of Indonesia

The following is the full text of an interview with President Park Geun-hye by the Jakarta Post of Indonesia on October 7.

Image courtesy of Cheong Wa Dae

QUESTION 1: What do you see as the prospects for the future of APEC in the context of the current situation where there exist numerous free trade agreements and comprehensive economic partnership agreements?

ANSWER: As of now, a great number of free trade agreements and comprehensive economic partnership agreements have been concluded or are being negotiated. In other words, this situation obviously signifies the increased importance of APEC’s role in the interest of global trade liberalization.

If regional trade agreements, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) for which negotiations are now underway, can be described as tributaries, the Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific (FTAAP) can be likened to a river and the multilateral trade regime centered on the World Trade Organization the sea. As different tributaries join to form a river flowing into the sea, a variety of regional trade agreements among APEC member economies should harmoniously contribute to the conclusion of the FTAAP and ultimately help reinforce multilateral trade systems around the world. In so doing, APEC should play a crucial role in directing this process onto the right track.

Just as APEC was instrumental in finalizing the negotiations for the Uruguay Round in the past, I hope the organization will continue to contribute to intra-regional and global trade liberalization living up to its founding principle of “open regionalism.”

QUESTION 2: Do you think APEC should focus only on economic issues by taking its hand off topics such as strategies, politics and security that are being discussed in other types of forums?

ANSWER: Economic development and integration in the Asia-Pacific region, the primary goal of APEC, will be made possible only when peace and stability can be brought to the region.

For this reason, the APEC member economies have worked hard not only to promote trade liberalization but also to actively carry out cooperative projects in a wide range of areas, including counterterrorism, prevention of epidemics and response to disasters.

QUESTION 3: How do you think APEC leaders can make contributions to addressing such pending global issues?

ANSWER: Given APEC’s significant influence as evidenced by the fact that its population and GDP account for 39 percent and 58 percent of the global total, respectively, I believe the forum will be able to play a significant role in resolving pending issues facing the international community.

Such as September 11 terrorist attacks, the earthquake that generated the great Indian Ocean tsunami and global food price hikes, APEC leaders put their heads together to seek solutions.

It might be difficult for APEC to directly deal with the crises in Syria, Egypt and some other parts of the world. Notwithstanding this, APEC will still be able to discuss various global issues through the robust network for cooperation it has built so far and contribute to the promotion of global peace.

QUESTION 4: What does APEC have to do to bolster the global economy and avoid the recent economic downturns in Europe and the United States?

ANSWER: I think there are three important tasks.

First, advanced APEC member nations have to make efforts to minimize the jitters in the global financial market by deliberately fine-tuning any alternation in their monetary policy stance.

Second, through the efforts to better the investment environment and reform the labor market, APEC member nations have to eliminate the structural vulnerabilities of each nation’s economy.

Third, APEC member nations have to prevent the protectionist moves within the region and spur endeavors for trade liberalization.

QUESTION 5: Are there new ideas that Korea will seek to put forth at APEC? Or outcomes it is looking forward to?

ANSWER: My first hope is that participating leaders will come together at this meeting to demonstrate once again their unwavering commitment to achieving the Bogor Goals. In addition, with the endorsement of an APEC connectivity framework as well as a multi-year plan for investment in infrastructure development, I hope we will be able to lay the guidelines for working towards economic integration within the region.

As for new ideas, one of the key talking points at the meeting is how to overcome low growth and high unemployment. Korea will propose as its solution to these problems the concept of a creative economy.

The creative economy is a paradigm for economic development that builds on the creative ideas of economic actors to combine science and technology with IT and to promote convergence between different industries as well as between industry and culture, creating in the process new markets and new jobs.

I believe that the creative economy is a compelling strategy for bringing about continued growth and job creation, not only for Korea but also for the rest of the APEC member economies and for the world economy as well. I intend to discuss and share this vision for realizing a creative economy with the other leaders.

QUESTION 6: Over the past 20 years, we have observed a partial reversal in trends: a movement away from trade liberalization toward protectionism. Do you see this kind of trend in effect among APEC member economies? If so, what kinds of measures do you think should be taken to address this?

ANSWER: As economic conditions worsen, protectionism can become more tempting. In the aftermath of the global financial crisis, certain trade protectionist measures like non-tariff barriers have in fact been put into place. Yet history has taught us that in the face of growing economic difficulties, all countries must come together to expand openness and promote trade; when this happens, all of us can win.

In this respect, I believe it is important that the leaders at the APEC meeting agree to extend the standstill against protectionist measures through the end of 2016 and work together to ensure that all countries carry out a rollback of protectionist and trade-distorting measures. In this way, they must show to the world APEC’s commitment to trade liberalization.

It’s a clear message that the efforts of all member countries are needed to block the spread of protectionism.

(Image and text courtesy of Cheong Wa Dae)

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