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[Editorial] President Roh’s Responsibilities as APEC Summit Chairman

[Editorial] President Roh’s Responsibilities as APEC Summit Chairman

Posted November. 11, 2005 07:51,   


The Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit will open on November 18 in Busan with 21 member countries’ leaders participating. During the summit meeting, South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun’s leadership as a chairman of the meeting must be evaluated.

In a press conference with foreign correspondents held three days ago, President Roh said he would suggest narrowing social gaps among the countries in the Asia-Pacific region in this year’s APEC meeting. He added that if APEC only emphasizes a business-friendly environment, social gaps will widen, causing further exclusion of the poor from the market.

With regards to President Roh’s remarks, the Washington Post reported on Wednesday that President George W. Bush heard international complaints about the dark side of globalization for the second time. The first one came from Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez and the second from President Roh.

Considering the fact that President Chavez is famous for his anti-America and anti-globalization campaigns, many Koreans must have been at a loss to see their president being put in the same category as Chavez.

South Korean Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Ban Ki-moon explained the president’s remarks as an emphasis on the need to narrow social gaps among APEC member countries as part of the supplementary measures to facilitate trade liberalization.

Nevertheless, we cannot help look at what impact such remarks had on the national image, not to mention the president’s.

Established in 1994 with the goal of expanding trade and investment, APEC has made great strides to adopt the “Bogor Declaration,” which states the goal of removing all of trade and investment barriers by 2020. It is particularly meaningful that the Asia Pacific countries, despite greater historical and cultural differences than among EU countries, have made such remarkable progress.

The Korean government, from past administrations, has played an active role in that process.

The chairman of the APEC meeting should be careful in expressing opinions since both developed and less-developed countries participate in the meeting. President Chavez insists that the U.S. and other rich counties are unfairly benefiting from globalization while developing countries have become poorer in pursuit of trade liberalization. Whatever the true intentions of President Roh’s remarks were, President Roh was seen as someone like President Chavez, endangering the image of the President himself and of the country. We expect President Roh to demonstrate his diplomatic skills as an insightful global leader worthy of the chairmanship of the APEC Summit.