[EDITORIALS]WTO Requires National StrategyThe 4th ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organization began in Doha, Qatar, on Friday. The launch of a new round of multilateral trade negotiations and China's WTO membership are the main items on the meeting's agenda. The agenda expresses the organization's strong will against anti-globalization movements and protectionism, which is rearing its head during the current slump of the global economy.
A new round of trade talks is expected to deal with not only existing issues, such as cuts in tariffs, liberalization of trade in agricultural and services markets, and stronger fair trade regulations, including anti-dumping rules, but also new issues, such as investment and competition policies.
The new round will reflect the change in the international trade environment over the last few years, including developments in information and telecommunication.
Experts say Korea would generally benefit from a lowering of multilateral trade barriers. Belonging to no economic blocs, Korea would gain from multilateral trade liberalization that weakens discrimination by the exclusive economic blocs. But Korea should beware, because the nation's international position has changed significantly since the Uruguay Round of trade talks. Other countries now regard Korea as a developed economy. Accordingly, they expect that Korea will expand access to its agricultural products market as well as to its industrial products and services markets, in accordance with its status as a developed country.
Korea's agricultural industry and some other sectors that are less competitive in the global economy could come under serious pressure to restructure after market opening forced by a new round of trade negotiations.
Korea should put together a national agreement on adjusting conflicting interests between its competitive industries and weak industries. Then, it should deploy trade strategies based on the agreement. In the Uruguay Round of trade talks, Korea took a potentially damaging position by not being prepared with a national strategy. In the end, Korea has suffered from serious social confusion. Korea should not repeat that mistake.