[VIEWPOINT]Things Roh should do in the U.S.President Roh Moo-hyun’s visit to the United States will most likely focus on national security and North Korea’s nuclear program. But it should also cover economic and trade issues between South Korea and the United States.
The United States is one of the biggest markets for South Korean goods, and South Korea the sixth biggest partner in trade and investment for the United States. But there has been friction between the two countries in this field lately.
The absolute amount of U.S. direct investment in South Korea decreased in the first quarter, and difficult and complex issues, such as semiconductor exports and imports, intellectual property rights and regulating agricultural imports, must be addressed.
More serious than the various trade issues is the difference of opinions on national security, the future of U.S. troops in Korea and North Korea’s nuclear issue, which has harmed relations between the two countries.
U.S. direct investment in Korea has decreased, and investors who have made plans to put their money into Korea are being lured away by China and Southeast Asia because foreign investors are having doubts about the security of Korea.
These are the problems that President Roh needs to address in his visit to the United States. He must restore completely the relationship of mutual cooperation with the United States on the issue of security and North Korea’s nuclear program.
Also, on the economic front, Mr. Roh should take a firm stance based on universal order and principles.
We could not have pursued our “sunshine” policy on North Korea had not our economy been strong enough to support it.
The reason the United States still listens to us is because it acknowledges the dynamic potential of our economy. Therefore, we must use our strong point, our economy, as a foothold in showing that South Korea’s mind is truly geared toward the world.
In the big picture, Mr. Roh should vouch that we will become a model country of international trade, pursuing freedom and equality under multilateralism.
He should assert that South Korea will try to make headway in negotiations for the Doha Development Agenda, which have started this year, and express a willingness to discuss in detail the possibility of a free-trade treaty between South Korea and the United States.
Also, the president should emphasize South Korea’s role as a bridge in the development of the Pacific region in connection with its assuming the chairmanship of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in 2005.
Going into details, it would be desirable for the president to show his qualities as a young and practical leader by stating his position on the “middle weight” issues in good faith.
For example, Mr. Roh should make the United States understand that the issue of Hynix Semiconductor was to South Korea an inevitable method of surviving in the process of overcoming the financial crisis of the late 1990s.
He should let it be known that we will explore ways to co-exist with U.S. businesses and that we will provide stronger laws and regulations on the issue of intellectual property rights.
It would be a good idea to mention the demands of Americans working in South Korea, such as a transparent tax system, a definite deregulation reform and the rationalization of corporate management structure.
Mr. Roh should also explain in detail about the vision of turning South Korea into the logistics and financial center of Northeast Asia and hint at how U.S. businesses would play an important role in implementing this vision.
It is particularly important that the president should link the issues of security and economy and declare that we will do our best to help the United States battle terrorism.
President Roh should emphasize that without the disappearance of terrorism there can be no stable economic development.
When discussing efforts to fight terrorism, Mr. Roh should clearly express South Korea’s willingness to participate in the restoration of post-war Iraq and emphasize the distinguished achievements of the South Korean construction industry, overcoming all kinds of hardships in Vietnam, the Middle East and Africa during the past few decades.
This summit meeting is a golden opportunity for the South Korean government to aim at a transformation by strengthening its relations with the United States.
In addition to being the first meeting between Mr. Roh and Mr. Bush, it will also be Mr. Roh’s first visit to the United States.
By expressing during his visit how keenly he feels the importance of the United States to South Korea, Mr. Roh will be able to wash away all waves of disharmony.
* The writer is the dean of the Graduate School of International Studies at Ewha Womans University.
by Yoo Jang-hee