Moving toward Asian unity

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Moving toward Asian unity

The leaders of South Korea, China and Japan together laid a foundation to expand regional cooperation in a joint declaration after their trilateral summit meeting in Beijing.

The three countries have finally joined the global trend of regional integration. East Asia has lagged behind in this global trend toward cooperative trade and security. The three countries account for 70 percent of the region’s gross domestic product, and if they established an economic bloc it would be the world’s third-largest after the North American Free Trade Agreement and the European Union.

At the summit, the leaders agreed to strengthen mutual political and diplomatic trust while reinforcing economic ties. They promised to show a united front on global economic issues such as policies towards protectionism during international forums like the Group of 20 summit meetings. They even coordinated ideas on initiating free trade agreements and ways to launch joint efforts for green growth and conservation.

The agreement should not stop at rhetoric, and officials should now work out action plans. Korea, as a relatively smaller economy, should discreetly study its role in the trilateral relationship.

China and Japan are traditional rivals and won’t likely easily see eye-to-eye on many issues. Seoul must prove its prowess in mediation by ironing out differences on thorny issues like negotiating terms for a free trade deal among the three countries.

The birth of a regional community and its economic implications open doors to new opportunities for Korea.

Domestically, we must encourage corporations big and small to sharpen their competitiveness to capitalize on the new environment. On the foreign front, we must cement traditional ties with the United States to expand our international status and role in balancing the powers in Northeast Asia.

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