As the US-China trade conflict intensifies, high dependence on US and China has been pointed out as a potential risk to the Korean economy. This calls for trade policies including diversification of trading partners and the establishment of a new model for trade agreements suitable to such diversified partners. Meanwhile, the necessity for such policies grows as protectionism spreads globally and trade order changes after the Covid-19 pandemic.
Africa and the Pacific (AP) regions, the main areas of interest in this report, have been excluded from Korea’s FTA network despite their high growth potential and strategic significance. Most countries in the AP regions are geographically distant from Korea and mostly underdeveloped, so we have approached the region only in terms of development cooperation. Currently, trade agreements and systems for trade and investment with AP countries are insufficient, and the size of economic cooperation with these countries remains small. However, Africa has high market potential, owing to various factors such as its high population growth, middle-class growth, and transition to digital economy, while the Pacific island countries have abundant fisheries and marine resources, and wield voting power in international organizations. In this regard, it is necessary to build the foundation for cooperation with AP countries in the mid-to-long term.
Against this backdrop, this study seeks mid- to long-term strategies to promote trade cooperation with AP countries. First we consider introducing and expanding nonreciprocal arrangements for developing countries in the AP regions, as currently provided to United Nations-defined least developed countries. Then we consider introducing a reciprocal trade agreement, for example, an FTA. As a result, we found that it is necessary to introduce an FTA model suitable for developing countries in the AP regions instead of introducing further nonreciprocal agreements. Based on the results of the study, this paper proposes strategic directions for trade cooperation with the AP regions, and furthermore, provides policy suggestions that should be included in the agreement with those countries.