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Development Overview

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Overview of Korea’s development experience

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Development Overview
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Economic Administration

Regional cooperation

The history of Korea’s regional economic cooperation is short in contrast to that of its bilateral cooperation. A regional cooperation policy came into being with the market opening measures of the early 1980s and was stimulated by the prolonged UR negotiations and rapid growth of regionalism in the Asia Pacific region. In the late 1980s, liberalization in trade, investment and the foreign exchange market started to make a positive impact in terms of promoting the globalization of Korean economy and its structural improvement. It created the conditions and an environment for Korea to play a leading role in the arena of international cooperation. The planned formation of the EU and launch of the UR in the late 1980s encouraged Korea’s participation in regional cooperation.

In 1989, Korea took a leading role in establishing APEC to help develop economic cooperation in the Asian and Pacific region, where most of Korea’s exports and investment are concentrated. Since the Asian financial crisis in 1997, Korea has taken active part in broader regional cooperation efforts through ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), ASEAN+3 (China, Japan, Korea), and ASEM (Asia-Europe Meeting) in order to attain sustainable growth in association with regional economic development.

APEC took precedence for Korea as the main organizational body to promote regional economic cooperation until the early 2000s. Korea has been a leader in advancing APEC’s Trade and Investment Liberalization and Facilitation (TILF) and Economic and Technical Cooperation (Ecotech) agendas, with the following policy objectives: (1) contributing to the facilitation of global free trade under the WTO system; (2) deepening regional integration to secure trade and investment markets and expand business opportunities; (3) strengthening strategic relationships with member economies; and (4) sharing knowledge, experience and resources with developing economies.

As regards East Asian cooperation, the Korean government has stepped up efforts to create the ASEAN+3 cooperative frameworks. There are a number of impediments to genuine economic integration. In particular, the historical conflict between China and Japan hinders economic integration. Clarifying the division of roles with the EAS (East Asia Summit) and other Asian cooperation forums, and solidifying the role of ASEAN+3 are regarded as the key to all future activities. The future of the less structured ASEM, which must overcome differences in economic, social and historical background between Asia and Europe, rests on the efforts of its member economies. These efforts involve strengthening economic ties through liberalization and openness, collaboration on securing financial stability, the promotion of inter-regional trade and investment, the continuous investment in infrastructure, extensive cooperation in science and technology, an increase in political and security cooperation, joint action on environmental issues, and the stimulation of educational, cultural and social interaction.

Source : SaKong, Il and Koh, Youngsun, 2010. The Korean Economy Six Decades of Growth and Development. Seoul: Korea Development Institute.