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Trade Minister attends trade & foreign ministerial APEC meeting in San Francisco 2023-11-17

Minister for Trade Dukgeun Ahn attended Session II of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) trade and foreign ministerial meetings held on November 15 in San Francisco, chaired by U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai, and proposed two reform measures for establishing a more connected and resilient trade and investment system for the Asia-Pacific region.

First, Trade Minister Ahn stated that the World Trade Organization (WTO) MC13, to be held in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in 2024, should take place as a “Reform Ministerial Meeting” that serves as a critical turning point in recovering the trust of the multilateral trade system. He specifically called for the following efforts to strengthen the WTO’s role in negotiations: normalization of the dispute settlement system by 2024, as agreed during MC12; incorporation of the Investment Facilitation for Development (IFD) Agreement into the WTO system; and for negotiations on e-commerce to reach a conclusion by the year end.

Second, the trade minister emphasized the need for a trade and investment environment reform for heightening inclusiveness in the Asia-Pacific region. He shared Korea’s tailored support projects that take into consideration the SMEs’ and women’s conditions, capability and development stage, and introduced policies leveraging digital technology for enhancing their competency. He also mentioned the Korea-ASEAN Digital Innovation Flagship Project that aims to bolster the ASEAN youth’s abilities of utilizing artificial intelligence and digital technology, and expressed his commitment on continuing discussions for inclusiveness and sustainability within APEC in view of Korea’s chairmanship in 2025.

Moreover, Trade Minister Ahn attended the session on anti-corruption and shared the progress of the international community’s cooperative efforts to obliterate anti-graft and introduced Korea’s past initiatives for improving integrity, such as the legislation of the anti-graft law (2016) and the Public Officials’ Conflict of Interest Prevention Act (2021). He highly appreciated the fact that the implementation of the Pillar IV of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF), in which many APEC members are participating, can help extirpate intraregional corruption and streamline the tax administration procedures, contributing to the realization of a fair economy. He stated that these endeavors will all work towards stabilizing the Asia-Pacific region’s business management environment and ease global corporations’ regional market entry.