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Experts Propose Trade Liberalization, Economic Cooperation in Northeast Asia
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Economists attending a regional economic forum have called on Northeast Asian countries to build up a new cooperation mechanism with trade liberalization and economic and technological cooperation as the core.

"The new cooperation mechanism should be established in line with the principle of mutual benefit, equality and consultation," said Wang Luolin, vice-president of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Wang is among more than 200 scholars who are at the eastern port city Weihai to attend the 2002 Northeast Asian Economic Forum.

The Northeast Asian cooperation, unlike that within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, is among localities rather than nations.

The Northeast Asia region covers the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), The Republic of Korea (ROK), and part of China, Japan, Russia and Mongolia. "Thus, the Northeast Asian cooperation concentrates more on projects between the local governments of the nations," Wang said.

The nations in Northeast Asia differ from economic development levels and have their own advantages, he said, referring to Japan and the ROK's capital and technology, China's labor and huge market, and Russia's natural resources.

And the cultural exchanges between the nations in history also provide good conditions for the cooperation, he said.

Yoshida Susumu, director of the ERINA research institute of Japan, said to promote cooperation, the Northeast Asian nations should concentrate on the following projects:

---The establishment of a long-term mechanism that ensures a

secure and stable energy supply for Asia, with the development of the Kovykta gas field in Russia as the key. To date, progress has been made in the cooperation between Russia, China and the ROK in this project.

---The improvement of the transportation facilities.

---Continued international efforts to promote the development

of the Tumen River area.

---The development of tourism.

Yoshida Susumu said that the Northeast Asian cooperation has developed slowly over the past decades because of those problems left over since the end of the cold war. At present, the ROK, the U.S. and Japan have not achieved normalization of diplomatic ties with the DPRK; some governments have shown no interest in participating in economic development in this region; and there is a lack of a financial institute responsible for raising capital for the regional cooperation.

Most scholars at the forum called on the governments of the Northeast Asian nations to actively participate in the regional cooperation, especially to build up a Northeast Asian development bank.

Cho Lee Jay, senior advisor to the East-West Center, said that the Northeast Asian development bank will offer capital for infrastructure construction, and for the research, education and training needed for economic development.

All the experts said that enhancing economic cooperation in the Northeast Asian region is not only a win-win deal to nations involved, but will also help confront the uncertainty brought

about by the globalization.

(Xinhua News Agency May 3, 2002)

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