[EDITORIALS]Much to learn about tradeKorea should have learned much from the ordeal of negotiating its first free-trade agreement with Chile. When it comes to commerce policies, Korea must be more proactive to survive global competition; in industrial policies, Korea has to form a long-term vision under which it must continue restructuring its economy and persuade interest groups that such retooling is needed.
In free-trade talks with Chile, the agricultural industry was at stake, including fruits, like apples, pears, and grapes. Future trade talks will affect all areas of the nation's commerce. Small and medium-sized companies, as well as large corporations, will be touched by the results of the negotiations.
For example, in free-trade negotiations with Japan, small and medium-sized companies are the issue. We need to be level-headed when examining the pros and cons of entering a free-trade agreement with Japan. Whether the issue is agriculture or manufacturing, we have to take into consideration the broader issues, not just simple trade surpluses, such as improving consumer protection, enhancing the structure of the economy, direct foreign investment, girding for regionalism and changes in geopolitics caused by being part of an economic bloc.
China is pursuing free-trade agreements with the Association of South East Asian Nations, and Korean products' price competitiveness is being eroded in Mexico, which has established free-trade agreements with numerous countries.
The world trade order is headed for faster liberalization. According to the timetable of the New Round, Korea must present ideas by the end of March 2003, only one month after a new administration is inaugurated, on products to fall under the regime and a schedule for market opening.
If the Korean government plans to take a proactive stance in its trade policies, the government must prepare the nation for change. Opening a market cannot be seen as damaging an industry. The transformation of the world asks us to think differently.