SEOUL: South Korea needs to move faster to join a Pacific trade deal signed by Japan and 10 other regional nations last week without the presence of the US, experts here say.
Seoul officials have withdrawn their attention from the Japan-led process of reviving the Trans-Pacific Partnership since President Donald Trump pulled the US out of it to pursue his “America First” agenda shortly after taking office early last year, reports The Korean Herald.An interministerial task force formed to consider Korea’s entry to the TPP was disbanded in July.
Finance Minister Kim Dong-yeon said Monday that Korea would decide whether to join the revived Pacific trade pact within the first half of the year after discussion among government agencies.
“We will closely monitor other countries’ moves as well,” said Kim, who doubles as deputy prime minister for economic affairs, in a meeting of economy-related ministers.
With the US in its fold, the TPP would have accounted for 37 percent of world gross domestic product and about one-quarter of its trade.
But the slimmed-down deal, known as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, is still regarded as a significant achievement toward bolstering free trade amid mounting protectionism prompted by the Trump administration.
Its signing ceremony was held in Santiago, Chile, just before Trump slapped steep tariffs on imported steel and aluminum in a move that many fear could escalate into a global trade war.The 11 signatories form a market of 500 million, representing 13.5 percent and 15 percent of the global economy and trade, respectively.