Interview: APEC leaders' meeting required to restore free trade order: S.Korean expert

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, November 20, 2020
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SEOUL, Nov. 20 (Xinhua) -- The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) members will be required to restore free trade order from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and its consequent economic downturns when the APEC leader's meeting is virtually held on Friday, a South Korean expert said.

"The COVID-19 pandemic made it difficult for (global) free trade to get back into a right track. Protectionist moves strongly arose with economic downturns across the world, giving a big, tough challenge to free trade," Jeon Byeong-seo, director at the Institute of Chinese Economic and Financial Research, told an interview with Xinhua Friday.

"It will be more important than everything that economic powerhouses, such as China and the United States, open up markets and take the lead in restoring (global) free trade order," said Jeon.

He noted that the newly signed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) indicated the advent of new leadership in tackling economic issues in Asia, saying that it will be of significance to successfully expand the RCEP into the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP).

The Asia-Pacific region was rattled by the COVID-19 pandemic. APEC's gross domestic product (GDP) contracted by 3.7 percent for the first six months of 2020 and is expected to decline by 2.5 percent for the whole year, according to APEC Policy Support Unit.

The upcoming APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting is forecast to seek an economic recovery in the Asia-Pacific region from a fallout of the pandemic, while championing multilateralism and free trade.

Speaking of the upcoming Group of 20 (G20) summit scheduled for Nov. 21-22 via video link, Jeon said the leaders are expected to address a lot of challenges facing the world, including concerted efforts to deal with the pandemic, free trade, environment, income gap, economic and financial cooperation and so on.

Regarding China's 14th Five-year Plan, Jeon said China's opening-up will raise the country's global status to a higher level in every field, but he noted that a discreet approach will be required towards the liberalization of the finance and investment sectors.

Citing the recent economic indicators, Jeon said China's economy showed a higher growth compared to other major economies amid the prolonged pandemic, adding that it will be significant for the Chinese government to prop up private consumption down the road. Enditem

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