The Lessons of APEC

      November 20, 2005 21:32

      The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Busan closed on Saturday, culminating with a two-day summit of leaders. It was the largest international event ever held in the country, with over 5,000 participants from Korea and abroad, including heads of state and 3,000-odd government representatives from 21 member countries and over 1,000 businesspeople. The APEC heads of state adopted a "Busan Roadmap" calling for a swift conclusion of free trade negotiations by 2010 and 2020 for developed and developing countries. They also adopted a declaration on cooperation in free trade, terrorism, environment and natural disasters.

      A member since APEC started in 1989, South Korea as forum chair led efforts to push for completely free worldwide trade - a fitting task for a country that developed into the world’s 12th largest trading nation in the 60 years since World War II.

      Progress in free trade, the theme of the Busan APEC forum, is an irresistible current of the times. Poised on the threshold of becoming a developed country, Korea has no choice but to keep in step with the developed countries that lead it. That our ruling forces shout anti-globalization slogans on the international stage betrays their ignorance of Korea’s position in the world today and the direction it should take - or else it is an attempt to seduce the masses with cheap slogans in the full knowledge of which way the wind really blows.

      We have two choices: embrace limitless global competition, an exhausting but inevitable task if we want to thrive, or join the ranks of the refuseniks and be left behind. The most important lesson of the Busan APEC forum is confirming the path the Republic of Korea must take and what attitude is required of our leaders so we can take it.
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