East Asian cooperation

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East Asian cooperation

The fourth annual Korea-China-Japan Forum produced constructive and valuable suggestions for enhancing regional cooperation and combating economic challenges.

The two-day forum, which wrapped up in Busan on Monday, was sponsored by the JoongAng Ilbo, Xinhua News Agency of China and Nihon Keizai Shimbun of Japan.

Participating members concluded that the three major Asian economies should take the initiative to set up a regional monetary fund and challenge protectionist trade practices.

The current global financial crisis has reinforced the need for closer economic ties among the three East Asian nations, which have been severely hit by massive currency fluctuations set off by debt insolvency in larger economies.

The three nations possess the largest foreign currency reserves in the region, with China, Japan and Korea claiming a combined $3.2 trillion as of the end of 2008.

It seems only natural that East Asian countries would make use of resources in the region to alleviate the effects of the international financial crisis.

One solution proposed by forum participants is the establishment of an Asian Monetary Fund. This is a promising idea.

The 30-member forum of regional experts and economists also proposed creating a regional trade bloc that could help to guard against the protectionist, nationalistic trade climate that has emerged amid the continuing economic downturn around the world.

The three-year-old forum has been calling for a free trade agreement among Korea, China and Japan since the first meeting in 2006.

The three export-driven economies have long been dependent on the United States and European markets to propel their economies, but the model upon which growth in those markets has been based is facing a serious challenge.

Advanced economies can no longer rely on overseas consumption to stimulate their own economies, even if the U.S. and Europe seem to be pulling out of the current recession.

The countries of East Asia need to expand regional trade to support sustainable growth. Trade among the three countries accounts for just 25 percent of their external trade. That’s quite small when compared with the 70 percent shared among EU countries and the 40 percent among the countries bound by the North American Free Trade Agreement.

We hope the governments of the three countries will take the suggestions proposed by the economic forum to heart.

It is up to them to fulfill the promise of regional cooperation.
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