Korea Times, 6 September 2005
Roh Wants APEC to Become Bloc
By Ryu Jin
President Roh Moo-hyun Tuesday stressed the need for Asian and Pacific Rim countries to pursue economic integration like that of the European Union (EU) and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
In a speech at the annual gathering of the Pacific Economic Cooperation Conference (PECC) at COEX in southern Seoul, he said it would be more effective on a long-term basis to build a regional economic bloc, rather than to continue signing bilateral free trade agreements (FTAs).
``Pursuing regional economic integration will be more effective on a long-term basis because signing bilateral FTAs not only takes a considerable amount of time and effort but also has the potential to reduce the efforts of the liberalization originally intended,’’ he said.
Established in 1980 and now composed of 25 member committees from the Asia-Pacific region, the PECC is holding its 16th general meeting here with hundreds of government officials, businessmen and scholars attending.
Roh suggested that formats and ways of launching the economic union of the region be discussed in the PECC meeting of civilians so that the outcome could be closely examined in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum of government officials.
This year’s APEC summit will be held in November in Pusan, South Korea’s second largest city and the largest port city located in the country’s southeastern area.
Roh called on the Asian and Pacific countries not to succumb to a pessimistic view of the possible launch of a regional economic bloc of its own but to enhance regional cooperation to reduce economic gaps and develop complementary relationships.
``South Korea has actively joined in projects to narrow the information gap and develop human resources in the region,’’ he said. ``If we continue to make these kinds of efforts, a regional bloc like the EU could materialize in this region and would become a new world order.’’
Roh expressed hopes that South Korea may serve as a logistics hub in the Northeast Asian region when inter-Korean railways and roads are linked to Eurasian and Pacific nations in the near future. He also expressed cautious optimism on the resolution of the North Korean nuclear issue.
``We are trying to emerge as the high-technology research and development hub, with a focus on information technology,’’ he said. ``We will also help boost corporate restructuring, financial derivatives and bond markets.’’