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South Korea should intensify its efforts to integrate economies in the
Asia-Pacific region to better capitalize on what many see as the newly-emerging
center of the global market, the country's top economic policymaker said
"We should keep our policy focus on the Asia-Pacific region, which is emerging as the nucleus of the global economy, so we can spearhead regional economic integration," Finance Minister Bahk Jae-wan told a meeting with other key policymakers.
He said the government has to sustain its growth momentum by building "cooperative networks" with emerging countries and expand free trade agreements (FTAs) to cash in on opportunities they can provide South Korea's export-driven economy.
His remarks are in line with the government's steady efforts to sign more free trade deals as part of efforts to expand its so-called "economic territory."
South Korea has enforced FTAs with countries including Chile, Singapore, Peru, the European Union and the United States. In May, Seoul also announced the launch of free trade negotiations with China, the country's largest trading partner.
Bahk, meanwhile, assessed external global market conditions as "not favorable," citing the protracted eurozone problems and economic uncertainty hanging over industrialized countries such as the U.S.
He expressed concern that the global economic slump is pushing many countries to resort to protectionism as they try to shield their industries from external challenges, and competition to secure crude oil and foods will also intensify.