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Korea, China, Japan say no to Trump's protectionism

Posted May. 09, 2017 10:59,   

Updated May. 09, 2017 11:00

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Korean, Chinese, and Japanese financial policy makers met at the Trilateral Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors' Meeting held on Thursday in Yokohama, Japan and announced a communique saying that they will "reject any form of protectionism." The three financial ministers reaffirmed a strong coordination by saying, "We agree that trade enhances productivity as the most vital engine for economic growth, including job creation." It is noticeable that the financial leaders of the three Northeast Asian nations raised one voice against U.S. President Donald Trump who is currently hoisting the banner of America-first banner under protectionism.

Indeed, major advanced leaders have been busy reading President Trump's face for 100 days since his inauguration. Under the rejection from the U.S., the phrase "reject protectionism," which had appeared for three consecutive years, was excluded from the communique made in the G20 Meeting of Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors held in Berlin in March this year. Furthermore, though IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel all agreed to raise vigilance upon rising protectionism, only conflicts heightened as the U.S. opposed their idea at the G20 Meeting of Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors held in Washington last month.

Just as Lagarde warned last year that the protectionism seen before World War I would lead to disastrous aftermath, not many countries can benefit from protectionism, which hurts global economic growth, inclusivism, and people. Unless the haunting shadows of protectionism stops lingering, the export-driven Korea will be the hardest hit. It is also disappointing to see two-faced Chinese President Xi Jinping who once claimed "China will become the guardian of free trade" at the Davos Forum held in Switzerland in January, and then turned towards higher trade barriers. Beijing encouraged Chinese consumers to boycott Korean products as a protest against the deployment of THAAD, and even blocked their people from visiting Korea. These recent movements portray the stark reality of international trade where the way of the closed fist prevails.

Therefore, it is very meaningful that Korea, China and Japan have raised one voice to protect free trade against all odds. In this borderless global economy, trade has become a strategic matter directly linked to national security. Under close coordination among the three nations, which account for 20 percent of global economy and trade, they may win more supporters to confront Trump's protectionism. In addition, their communique should go beyond words and actually translate into visible policy coordination. More efforts should be made to hoisting the flag of free trade, which is a resistless global trade trend at G20 meetings.